Beyond Beauty takes the story of Sleeping Beauty one step further, looking beyond the imagined happy ending so often featured in fairytales to a reality of deceit and ultimate self-discovery. Ron Hutchinson’s seasonal play tries very hard not to be a pantomime and, while this may serve his narrative well, it is difficult to see to which age group the play is pitched.
There are some fun performances, notably from Cate Hamer in the dual role of the Grand Duchess and the Evil Fairy, while a highly adaptable David Eaton plays a broad selection of characters from the Good Fairy to assorted commoners. Bevan Celestine makes for a rather louche Prince and Sophie Robinson successfully brings her vaguely unsatisfied Princess bang up to date.
Holding the story together is Natalie Harman as the street-smart Storyteller, who navigates the amiable mix of characters from the Middle Ages using a modern moral compass. Harman provides much of the energy in this piece and, along with Eaton, practically all of the humour.
The biggest success comes from the design team led by James Turner, who brings a touch of magic, if not warmth to this fairly new reclaimed space in the heart of a Peckham Rye industrial estate.