“I used to be Snow White,” Mae West famously wisecracked, “but then I drifted.”
While Hayley Sheen’s Scouse Snow White may be sweet as apple pie, traditionally Liverpool Royal Court’s Christmas show is, like West’s films, definitely not for young audiences.
The theatre relishes pushing the bounds of seasonal good taste, although this latest production feels uncharacteristically restrained, particularly in the first half. Even the send-up of Liverpool’s elected mayor, with Keddy Sutton reprising her role from last year’s Scouse Cinderella, seems less barbed and more warm-hearted.
Andrew Schofield’s slyly rhyming narrator keeps the action on course as the Evil Queen (Lindzi Germain) schemes her way to being the fairest in the land, banning Christmas and enlisting the help of an enchanted huntsman (Michael Fletcher) and a flamboyant Liberace-like vampire (Stephen Fletcher) to rid her of her rival.
The Fletchers are one of two pairs of siblings in the show; Sheen’s sister Jamie Clarke also joins her on stage. All four, graduates of Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and Royal Court regulars, have keen comic timing and give strong vocal performances.
Actor/puppeteer Samantha Arends, making her Royal Court debut, imbues her Avenue Q-style character Nana Dwarf with a winning mixture of charm and naughtiness.
Olivia du Monceau’s visually appealing revolve set is divided into castle, dwarfs’ grotto-like cottage and a filigree woodland surely inspired by 3D greetings cards, all within the circumference of a giant apple. A compact band provides the base for a soundtrack performed with energy and rich harmonies by the cast.