Sleeping Beauty at the Carriageworks: A Review.

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This review was a collaboration between Marit Foekens and Hannah Cox.

Tired students, Drag Queens and a children’s fairytale. It was a trio we never knew we needed until last week.

When walking into the theatre, we took in the reality of what had been our suspicion all along: we were one of (if not) the only people here that weren’t part of a family. We were met by a hoard of happy children, exhausted parents and a beautiful centre-stage that would not look misplaced in an-all pink candy store. However, this was quickly forgotten when the play started, and the first song began, especially after one of us become the receptor of a well-aimed package of Haribo, and consequently a joke.

To begin on the most positive note of the night, what stood out to both of us was the great ‘drag-acting’ (if this wasn’t a word yet, we have made it one now), a bit of stand-up and loads of adult fun to keep the parents awake. Myra Dubois (Evil-sister Carabosse) and John Danbury (Dame Dolly Dolittle) were the ones keeping the grown-up audience entranced with the story utilizing witty and relevant jokes and gags with the help of both subtle and not so subtle jabs at subjects such as sex, politics and the monarchy. The two sometimes even managed to make the other cast members break character with their lovely improvisations that, albeit noticeable for the audience, only managed to make the scenes with them in it stronger.

Image Credit: The Carriageworks Theatre

An actor that mustn’t be overlooked or forgotten is the talented James Meunier. While other main actors, apart from the duo mentioned above, were at certain times mediocre at best in their theatrical acting and singing. Meunier managed to hold the scene together with both the perfect over-acting that only works on the stage and a theatrical voice that holds its own effortlessly. An actor who wouldn’t have looked out of place on any grande-stage production, and we definitely hope to see more of him in the future.

Still, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine for our tired, overworked student brains. While the first few scenes of the first act set a strong base, the last two of the same act managed to kick this down almost entirely. Three subsequent slow love songs with some lovey-dovey dialogue managed to not only make the kids yawn and lose their focus but ours as well. This wasn’t helped by the break, which was slightly prolonged due to some ‘technical difficulties’, which albeit being part of the trade, didn’t help in quelling the restlessness of the young crowd. However, this was quickly forgotten when the second act started.

While still inferior to the first half of the first act, the fictional story in the second act was perfect for the kids, and the random intervals of dancing helped wear them out a bit. And besides, who doesn’t love singing Christmas songs alongside happy families at the end of the show?
So, aside from the butchering of Madonna’s Hung Up (which in itself, could be argued as a butchering of ABBA’s clearly superior Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!), and a long storyline with a weak ending, the act remained surprisingly strong. Even as two adults sat between families the size of the Brady bunch, we had a pretty good time. Was it great? No. Would mediocrity turn to greatness once you’d had a few? Definitely. So buy yourself a bottle of Smirnoff at your local Tesco’s, and get ready to laugh as an adult and be as crazy as a kid, and go see Sleeping Beauty at the Carriageworks. For £13 a head, you’ll get to say you went to the theatre, all while achieving the type of mind-numbing hallucination only a decent night out could give.

Image Credit: The Carriageworks Theatre