Review: Sleeping Beauty and the Beast (Battersea Arts Centre)

Following the success of 2019 mashup ‘slumber party panto’ Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers, Sleeping Trees are back for a live residency of mayhem, song, and storytelling in the Council Chamber at Battersea Arts Centre.

The mood is festive, as John Woodburn, Joshua George Smith and James Dunnell-Smith are joined by Jamal Franklin (great vocals) and Juliana Fisk to present … Sleeping Beauty and the Beast.

All the elements for a hugely entertaining show are here – fun, audience interaction, good and bad guys, bubbles, Santa, and a ghost (called Harold on this occasion, which I’m afraid was our fault).

Production photo from Sleeping Beauty and the Beast

When a show is performed with this level of high energy and enthusiasm, it is impossible not to get caught up in the boos and ‘behind yous’, as Professors Belle and Beast try to prevent their Goodieversity being derailed by a “serial sleep potioner” and an unwelcome visitor.

This mashup showcases all sorts of familiar fairy tale people from Captain Hook and King Rat to the seven dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty herself, who has turned detective.

A slight framing device where James has gone all serious since the last live panto might make parents laugh, but it is the slapstick and catchy tunes which will make everyone smile.

Now eleven years into their careers as master physical storytellers, the Sleeping Trees trio manage timing, improvisation, and more in this rush to save both the “nice list” and Christmas itself.

Production photo from Sleeping Beauty and the Beast

Directed by Kerry Frampton and co-written by Sleeping Trees and Ben Hales (who also serves as composer), this is a show which harks back to the best of Play School or Dick and Dom, but also has its own quirky style.

As ever, the quick changes and sight gags are impressive, and the whole team engage well with their audience (less children this time, but we are all big children at heart) with clues and hints galore.

If you want to see the Sleeping Trees live, they are appearing at Battersea Arts Centre all through December: book here. The show runs approx 90 minutes including interval.

If you would prefer to watch their work at home, head over to their website where Puss in Moon Boots is now available to rent, along with last year’s The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington.

Image credit: The Other Richard

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