Beauty and the Beast review at Cast, Doncaster – ‘professional and competent’
It may be a tale as old as time, but Tobias Oliver and Matthew Bugg’s version of Beauty and the Beast is unlikely to be recognised by any Disney purists. It is, of course, the loosest of translations, with just the bare bones of the story remaining so that the actual panto fun can take centre stage.
So while there is a young French girl finding love with a cursed Prince turned hideous Beast, it’s much more about a comedy villain with a farting habit, a flamboyant dame called Polly Filler and plenty of cries of “it’s behind you”. All the usual panto elements are present and correct – corny jokes, call and response chants, and some audience participation, while Matthew Floyd Jones’ musical direction includes some smart covers that appeal to both kids (Little Mix, Ed Sheeran) and adults (Madonna, Michael Jackson).
There are no big star names on display in Doncaster, but Robert Took as Polly Filler makes for a sardonic and endearing dame, and Nicholas Chiappetta laps up the boos as the villainous Gaviscon. Lauren Chinery also makes an impressive panto debut as Bella, and Becky Barry does a fine job doubling up as Amie the dog and acting as the sign interpreter (CAST’s production is the first panto in the country to be fully British Sign Language integrated for every performance).
It’s a professional and competent production, but does sometimes feel a bit formulaic and just missing that bit of stardust that would propel it to must-see entertainment.