THEATRE Awaking Beauty Alan Ayckbourn and Denis King is in Stephen Joseph theatre reviews REVIEWS

Awaking Beauty

The Round
Stephen Joseph Theatre
Scarborough
ENGLAND

Take a bite

Alan Ayckbourn borrowed this plot from the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty and brought it up to date for today’s theatre goers. After years of searching for that magical musical experience Ayckbourn has come up with Awaking Beauty. Bang up to date for today’s audiences this adult musical with sex and swear words, is different and in tune with today. The imaginative music score is supplied by Denis King. Jonathan Williams, the Musical Director, who accompanies, sometimes gets the sound balance wrong, but this does not detract from the excellent singers who portray Denis King’s music with words by Ayckbourn, who also directs, with “I’ll settle for you” as probably the most memorable song.

We have The Prince (Duncan Patrick) being played with by the scheming witch Carabosse, admirably played by Anna Francolini and the Prince’s intended girlfriend Princess Aurora (Alice Fearn), the young couple, typical of today, going through the story with the aid of Carabosse’s familiar The Pigcutter nicely played by Ben Fox. This is all held together by six Narrators with superb singing voices who tell the story, supply the sound effects and second as other characters. DeVine is Verity Quade, Miss Chasum is Annalene Beechey, the Midwife is Helen French, the Sorceress is Matthew White, the Estate Agent, Ian McLarnon and Geoff is Jon-Paul Hevey who all show their musical prowess and, when needed, their acting skills.

The set by Michael Holt groans at the seams during scene changes, but this can be put right with practice by the stage crew. The costumes are at times wayward with the hairdressers looking a bit like dentists whilst The pigcutter’s costume portrays his character to perfection.

So did it work? On the whole yes, judging from the audience’s reactions, and it did give an alternative from the usual Christmas fare, but as a musical you will have to take a bite of the apple on offer and see for yourself. After all it is a fairy story. © BA

“Awaking Beauty” is at the Round, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough from the 11 December until the 17 January 2009.

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