Michael Harrison’s production is so consistently good that it almost defies description. It’s an extravaganza, a fairground ride, lavish in every department from special effects to sets and costumes. But it’s also a cracking good script, a story faithfully told and strong enough to enthral the audience.
Joe Pasquale (Muddles) and Ceri Dupree (Queen Passionella) in Sleeping Beauty at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham (previous picture shows Jenna Lee James as Carabosse) Photo: Keith Pattison
There’s never a dull moment, what with motorised loos and mad penguins and a motorbike flying above the heads of the audience. And that’s the tame bit, before the 3D effects that send monsters and bugs and ogres diving into our faces as we advance into the enchanted forest. It’s like something out of a Harry Potter film and yet it’s live theatre, family entertainment at its very best.
Even his strongest fellow actors can’t resist collapse after being goaded by Joe Pasquale’s anarchic, ad-libbing, little-boy-lost Muddles. He takes the place by storm. The wobbly-mouthed Ceri Dupree struts his stuff as Queen Passionella, in gravity-defying hats and a succession of ever more glitzy and outrageous costumes, including a goldfish bowl. Plaudits, too, for Jenna Lee-James’ cruel and imperious villainess, Carabosse, and for Shona White’s Enchantress, a fairy with real drive about her. You wouldn’t see better than this in the West End.