There’s a moment in Sleeping Beauty, as we await the grand entrance of evil witch Morgana (Karen Mann), where the actor/musicians take a break from belting out the hits and instead turn their hands to creating an atmosphere of sonic eeriness. The effect is utterly mesmerising - a reminder that behind the burps, bangs and bonkers behaviour, some rather rare artistic talent has once again been assembled to tickle our ribs.
Mann’s spiteful, lingering cackle is a joy to hear. It’s in competition with the usual array of outrageous synthesised sound effects, the magic of which is unnecessarily diminished by allowing Dame Taffeta Trott, played by Will Kenning, to make too many knowing comments about their source.
Kenning’s Dame is otherwise a towering specimen. Lilly Howard, as Princess Susie, and Peter Manchester, as her humble suitor Simon Steadfast, convey sweet chemistry, while Sean Kingsley as King Camelot makes pratfalling look easy.
For ‘no stone unturned’ exhibitionism, however, Steve Simmonds, as Morgana’s brattish son Mordred, takes the honours. The law of averages says the line, “Give it to me mumsy!”, repeatedly barked at sound barrier level, should start to grate. But Simmonds’ character is such a spellbindingly disturbed creation that the novelty simply never wears off. Ditto this company’s annual festive offering.