Sleeping Beauty review at Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa – ‘flair and artistry’
“They laughed at me when I said I wanted to be a jester. Well, they’re not laughing now,” quips Sean Dodd’s clown. The irony’s made double because neither are the audience, at first. But writers JP McCue and Janice Dunn’s tactic of dialling down the innuendo and turbo-charging the so-bad-they’re-good (-or-are-they-just-bad?) puns eventually works its charm, and makes the full journey from cringe-worthy to endearing.
Much of this is thanks to McCue’s exemplary dame. A Leamington panto regular, she’s a no-bullshit drag diva – skilled at working a crowd, quick with on-the-spot gags, not immune to a spot of corpsing. It’s a very funny performance.
This is by-the-book panto, carried out with flair and artistry. The musical numbers are full of show tune slickness, buoyed by Louise Redmond’s colourful choreography. Tim Clare’s suitably garish lighting design produces pools of hot pink and vomit green, and he pulls off a really quite terrifying coup with an enormous UV-lit dragon puppet.
Similarly, the moment in which a poisoned spinning wheel is revealed from within a giant present box manages to be genuinely uncanny. It’s these vivid moments of theatrical inventiveness which add unexpected texture to this first-rate panto.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.