SLEEPING BEAUTY by Rufus Norris – based on the original by Charles Perrault
Birmingham Rep at the Crescent Theatre, 23 November – 14 January
Runs: 2h, one interval
Review: Rod Dungate 29 November 2011
An unusual and enjoyable retelling.
This is an enjoyable, strange and surprising retelling of the familiar story. In fact, only the first half is really familiar – telling the story up to the waking of Princess Beauty. The second half is deliciously gruesome and centres around an ogress and her craving for her favourite cordon bleu dish.
There’s a pleasing anarchy in the way the tale unfolds, several different performance and story-telling styles mould together with wit and ingenuity. And the emphasis in much on enjoying the style rather than on dramatic tension of the story – but we know the basic tale anyway, so no big loss there.
Well known characters are given a fresh look, often with a 21st century twist. Most notable among these is Jenna Augen’s down-to-earth Fairy Good. The Fairy’s personality is infectious and with the lightest of touches Augen holds things together. She has a childlike quality, too, with which the younger members of the audience will easily identify. I like the way the Wicked Fairy (or witch) is done away with and full responsibility falls on this one fairy’s shoulders.
Among a host of clever performances Moyo Akande’s Ogress is greatly entertaining – ‘Meat. Give me meat.’ Ciaran Owen and Alex Clatworthy make a perfect feisty and non-sloppy couple as Prince and Beauty.
The actors sing and play a range of instruments, and the score by Catherine Jayes nods in the direction of English Traditional Folk music, which is satisfyingly appropriate. And in the smaller Rep temporary home of the Crescent Theatre, the production sits perfectly.
Ogress: Moo Akande
Ogre: Jofre Alsina
Goody: Jenna Augen
Lead Slave: Tom Attwood
Beauty: Alex Clatworthy
Prince of Nerds: Tomm Coles
Prince of Nerves: Nicholas Goode
King: Gregory Gudgeon
Minstrel: Joanna Hickman
Jorge the Donkey: Naomi Lee Schulke
Queen: Elizabeth Marsh
Prince: Ciaran Owens
Table Slave: Dan Willis
Director Sarah Esdaile
Designer: Francis O’Connor
Composer and Musial director: Catherine Jayes
Lighting Designer: Paul Pyant
Choreographer: Etta Murfitt
Sound Designer: Mic Pool
Assistant Director: Chris Hill
Casting Director: Kay Magson
Puppet Maker and Direction: Rachael Canning
Assistant Designer: Katy Hooper