SLEEPING BEAUTY, 5Star*****, London, To 08 01 17

Sleeping Beauty, by Susie McKenna
Hackney Empire
Runs to 8 January

Review: Tom Aitken 2 12 16

Pantomime convert; and united we stand
As it happens I have never seen a pantomime. Now that I have, I must in all conscience report that initially I did not enjoy the experience.

So loud, my dear!

But as I got the hang of what was going on I settled into enthusiastic enjoyment.

Of course, this show does not much resemble the old fairy story. It was bang (an appropriate word!) up to date, and it addressed its audience and their day-to-day experience in a racially very mixed part of London.

It does not, of course, become hectoring on any subject. Our sleeping beauty is black… So? Let’s all cheer loudly when the story turns out happily for her and everybody else except the obvious baddies, whoever they are.
And, get the costumes and the music. This is a very colourful and even noisier version of the world you live in outside this building (which, by the way, aren’t we lucky to have? Lovely, isn’t it? And impressive.)

And when we ask you whether they should do one thing or another, you shout ‘Yes!’ or ‘No!’ which ever is right. We’ll chivvy you along if you don’t. Cheer the goodies. Hiss or boo the baddies. (You won’t have too much difficulty deciding which of the people on stage is one or the other). And above all, enjoy yourselves while you’re doing it.
The fact that a large and diverse audience of pretty well all ages can become unified in such a way is very encouraging. Hope for the future… That sort of thing. At the end, we all rose to join in a song of unity with the technicoloured spectacle facing us. It ended thus: ‘…’cos we’re all mates in the house tonight’.

(I wonder in passing, whether Mr Trump has ever seen a pantomime. Probably not. He could, however, very easily join in the performance of one. Except, of course, that he wouldn’t know when to stop.)

To return to my starting point, I did fear, before I was overtaken by pleasure as I started to understand, that I would have a frightful headache when I woke up next morning.
I did not. And I’m still smiling.

Princess Tahlia: Alexia Khadine
Carabosse, the Dark Fairy: Sharon D Clarke
Dame Nanny Nora: Gavin Spokes
Denzil the Dragon: Kat B
King Eric, the Undecided: Tony Whittle
Ikoboo, servant to the Dark Fairy: Darren Hart
Prince Gabriel of Westminsteria: Wayne Perrey
Blisstip, a Good Fairy: Sharon Ballard
Shimmerpop, a Good Fairy: Georgia Oldman
Willowsnap, a Good Fairy: Kiruna Stamell
The Ogre: Leon Sweeney
Plus a six-strong Ensemble, five of Hackney Empire’s APP Dancers and 23 members of the vestry School of Dance and Performing Arts.

Director: Susie McKenna
Music: Steven Edis Design Lotte Collett
Musical Director: Mark Dickman
Lighting: David W Kidd
Choreography: Carl Parris

2016-12-04 13:26:18

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