No one could sleep through this Sleeping Beauty. Iain Lauchlan, who writes, directs and stars (the unforgettable Dame Nanny Knot) is a talent of Falstaffian flab (a Desmond Barrit of the Xmas stage). His buffooning is classic old-style: scarcely two obscene ribaldries in an hilarious two-hour script. Echoes of Doddy, Tommy Cooper perhaps, but primarily, Lauchlan’s own patent comic genius.
Iain Lauchlan (Nanny Knot) in Sleeping Beauty at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry Photo: Robert Day
The scene where a string of sausages got unscheduledly stuck yielded the funniest of ad-libbed exchanges, between Nanny and her hapless stooge, Muddles (Craig Hollingsworth): a cuddly Buttons-type, dressed like a Jester, and far better than either. Both naturally and studiedly gifted, cheeky and confiding, Hollingsworth holds the stage with almost Shakespearian authority. Together, the two bring the house down.
This well-planned show’s hero is designer Mark Walters, whose garish sets and backdrops are like a splay of Kandinsky, softened - this being Sleeping Beauty - by pinks. The costumes - Lauchlan has at least seven - brim over with wit and ideas and the props are a hoot. More importantly, everything is fabulously well-made.
Both princess and beau were wet, and the wicked godmother, fatally inaudible and gabbling at the start, unconvincing: but that’s what panto’s about. John Webb’s fusspot King is a joy. A superb show, worth a bucket of stars.