Pantomime is fantastical and enchanting. It weaves the modern with the traditional for all to enjoy. Richard Gauntlett’s Sleeping Beauty is a piece collective of family fun, politics and popular culture. It tells the story of a young girl who wishes to learn about her history and future place within society.
Gauntlett has used the original tale as a foundation for telling the story of this young women’s quest for identity. Sleeping Beauty actively postpones a marriage of love while she discovers her past and desires. Ian Greeves talent for lighting is useful for illuminating the thrills and the troubles that Patience (Sleeping Beauty) encounters throughout her journey.
I was mesmerised by the incredible charisma that one must have to perform in pantomime. Ben Langley and Richard Gauntlett have certainly mastered the art of comedic timing. Both carried the entire narrative of Sleeping Beauty with jokes and amusement. The scene “Gardens” was one that made individuals of all ages smile and laugh uncontrollably. This chaotic water fountain act was delivered with a relaxed sense of ease that made their reactions appear natural and impromptus. However, it was Derek Griffiths who stole the show. His ability to shift from reserved to flamboyant under the careful watch of the audience did not go unrecognised. Griffiths’ smooth transition into persona for the wonderfully adapted musical numbers achieved huge applause.
Whether you are forced by family and friends, or willingly attend such theatrical events, one cannot deny the captivation of dress and the charm that these delightful outfits emit. Costume designer Kirsteen Wythe created a sense of doom on the dowager’s entrance with green fabric and an array of sparkle. Patience’s dress on her declaration of Queen is every child’s dream of glitter and marvel. Inflatable and spinning components added a texture to the story that kept the audience in awe and on the edge of their seats.
Of course, it is the children that are at the centre of every pantomime. If you watch the show for family entertainment or to nurture the infant that is still within you, it is the value of love and the learning of lessons that is at the heart of the spectacle. The audience help to defeat the dowager’s hatred with kindness and compassion. The Central School of Dancing and Performance Arts presented the most professional and adorable of individuals. Christmas is a time of year where we can encourage children to enjoy the thrill of live performance, something that we often worry we have lost in such a technological age.
Sleeping Beauty is being performed at Norwich Theatre Royal Wednesday 13th December – Sunday 14th January.