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Sleeping Beauty review at the Stag, Sevenoaks – ‘great vocals’

Cleopatra in Sleeping Beauty at the Stag, Sevenoaks
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This year’s offering at Sevenoaks hit the headlines when a local resident complained that the pantomime was “too black”. The inflammatory remarks certainly gave rise to a storm of questionable publicity for Sleeping Beauty, but this had pretty much died down by the opening night.

At best, this is a fairly unremarkable production featuring sterile but competent animated projections in lieu of a set and a narrative so deconstructed, it’s practically nonexistent. Jasette Amos’ Fairy Malevesis barely features considering her billing and Peter Brad-Leigh’s Nanny is disconcertingly curmudgeonly. Lacking a stand-out dame or villain, a huge amount rests on Ricky Norwood’s shoulders as the comedy lead, Chester the Jester.

Thankfully Norwood rises to the challenge, being down with the kids and in with the grown-ups. He lampoons his time as Eastenders’ Fatboy with glee and a supremely confident stage presence means that he’s able to cajole comparable performances out of romantic leads Annie Holland and Jamie Papanicolaou.

It’s frankly genius to bring in 1990s girl group Cleopatra to play the good fairies and they gamely accept the responsibility with some great vocals. This Sleeping Beauty remains a production that relies far too heavily on its routines at the expense of telling a good story.

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Verdict
Great vocals and comedy let down by a wafer-thin script
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