Review: Sleeping Beauty, by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, at Crescent Theatre
It’s rather appropriate that the Birmingham Rep’s family Christmas show should be Sleeping Beauty.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say the first act is forty-winks time, but the production certainly yawns, stretches and rubs its bleary eyes before getting into its stride.
This isn’t the fault of the performers, who never snooze on the job. They even put in a triple shift.
The talented bunch don’t merely act (often taking on several roles) they also play musical instruments on stage, and even take turns working puppets.
However, before the intermission, the script is slow and overly convoluted for a family show, and there are precious few belly laughs.
The overreliance on gags about breaking wind wore thin pretty fast, and even the youngest kids in the audience didn’t seem to find them particularly funny.
However, like Beauty, the show wakes up in the second act.
And becomes really nasty.
Beauty is chased by the mother-in-law from hell, who also happens to be an ogre who wants to gobble up Beauty’s children.
And the introduction of a blind Brummie beggar with a pet rat makes for some truly funny moments.
The set and costumes are imaginative. I was particularly impressed by the giant spinning wheel, multitude of trap doors and giant slides allowing the cast to whiz past the audience onto the stage.
It seems almost unfair to single out any of the actors for praise, since all performances are stand-outs. But when has the reviewing biz ever been about fairness?
So I’ll say Moyo Akande is fiendishly sinister yet delightfully silly as the ogress, and Jenna Augen makes a very feisty fairy.
Ciaran Owens, as the Prince, has something of Prince Harry about him. A mixture of cocksure smugness and out-and-out idiocy.
Joanna Hickman, playing the Minstrel, doesn’t have much to do, yet still manages to shine.
Sleeping Beauty is not The Rep’s finest moment, though it still has enough energy and creativity to make for an enjoyable family night out.
* Until January 14. Details at www.birmingham-rep.co.uk