Bold, irreverent take on a classic tale with moments of dark Gothic horror
Most of Europe is under the kosh of austerity measures but you can rely on the Citz to come to the rescue of her cash-strapped audience with a bold new initiative, offering a pair of pantos for the price of one. At least, that's the feeling you're left with at the end of Dominic Hill's production, which features an extended coda, involving a battle between a wide awake Beauty (now married with two troll-faced puppet kids) and a ravenous ogress, that has so little to do with the action in the first half that it could easily have been labelled Sleeping Beauty: the Sequel.
Writer Rufus Norris has taken a irreverent approach to the Charles Perrault fairy tale, merging the familiar forces of good and bad in one grumpy, flatulent fairy, Goody (Kathryn Howden), who proves the show's refreshingly ambivalent moral centre. Beauty, too, is no mere goody-two-shoes, passively awaiting the arrival of her handsome prince: as played by Lucy Hollis she's a fiery iconoclast who gets stuck right into the climactic battle, sword in hand. There are striking scenes of dark Gothic horror, too, including a Greek chorus of trees that spring from trapdoors to wreak havoc on weakling princes, and an eerie scene in the Ogress's dining room, where Alasdair Hankinson's slave sits imprisoned in a hole in the table. Paddy Cunneen's musical arrangements and Naomi Wilkinson's cartoonish costumes add to the angular weirdness of the show.
All told the show feels a little disjointed, with characters from the first half disappearing to be replaced by a whole new set of protagonists. But for sheer energy visual imagination HIll's production is hard to beat.
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until Sun 6 Jan.