The Dreams Of Sleeping Beauty – Review

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
reviewed by Jenni Balow

A bunch of insomniac students with dark circles under their eyes keep the audience wide awake with their own interpretation of Sleeping Beauty this week, along with characters from Grimm’s fairy tales.

The lively cast of theatre practice and drama BA students drape bunting everywhere and the design team has devised the biggest wolf that ever stalked Red Riding Hood on the Minack stage.

The production directed by Vishni Velada Billson, has given the team tremendous five-star creative, musical and choreographic scope, and the actors work together in a supportive unit – but importantly, they need to project more to their audience. Too many one-liners were not audible, even on a fine opening night.

Visually it was superb, with no fewer than a dozen fairies flitting around in ribbons, tatters and grey tights, aided and abetted by the camp Niall Hunt, plus the 13th fairy (Julia Johnson) who has a bit of an issue after being left out of the Christening party (there’s always someone isn’t there).

Pyjama-clad insomniacs and three Beauties in dungarees enact 100 years of dreams (Jaye Hannah, Henrietta Imoreh and Gemma Richmond) and during that time they encounter Hansel and Gretel (James Shields and Amber Manley) who find themselves homeless after eating their way through their “sweetie house”.

Along with the king and queen of a flooded kingdom who are also war victims, they need the help of Beauty’s mum and dad, who have an open plan palace . . . with a sea view. Louise Amy Cielecki as the dad, all but steals the show as she struts and hollers in Michael McIntyre style, vying for the biggest cheers with the ‘Swan Lake’ fairies.

The finale features a magnificently crafted horse-head and The Kiss of course. There are two Princes, Alistair Wilkinson and Gary Sheldrake, sporting cool twinkle-toed sneakers.

Musical director Katie Baskeyfield gives us strolling players and rap and the designer is Helen Coyston, head of craft Mike Bell, wardrobe supervisor Lydia Cawson with costume team Sophea Bailey, Lauren Hall, Joanna Thomas and Amy Wood, head of props Jo Helsby and makers Chloe Pitcher and William Selby and are a great team.

All in all, well worth all those sleepless nights!