Thursday, 5 December 2019

REVIEW: Sleeping Beauty at Greenwich Theatre

Everyone knows the age-old tale of Sleeping Beauty, but Greenwich theatre have stretched the traditional story and centred it around Russia, the moon, and 50 years of Greenwich Theatre… obviously.

It’s 1969 and we are introduced to a “very very Scottish” actor, Ewan (Regan Burke). As he wanders the dark corridors of Greenwich Theatre, he comes across a common item found in London theatres; A Faberge egg. He releases its magical power in the form of Fairy Faberge (Funlola Olufunwa), who waves her sparkly egg-wand and whisks him back in time to 1850s Russia. We meet the Tsar and Tsarina (Martin Johnston and writer/director Andrew Pollard respectively) and the evil Rasputin (Anthony Spargo) who has cast a spell on a mirror to rid Russia of the Tsar and Tsarina and take over the world, as every good panto villain wishes to do.

With a stunning design from Cleo Pettit, both the set and costumes have all the appropriate panto sparkle and shine with great flavours of Russia and some ridiculously tight trousers for Ewan when he accidentally becomes ‘Major Tom’ after a confusion with a costume fitting. The set consists of a huge revolve which is utilised expertly to show the passage of time during the famous 100 years sequence, and also allows the pace of the show to keep up with the short attention span of the younger audience members. 

The first of the two standout performances of the evening comes from Regan Burke. Taking the role of an actor is, debatably, not much of a stretch for a performer who graduated from Mountview just a few months ago. However, he takes to the role brilliantly, becoming lovable, naive and funny in equal measures. His vocals are somewhat underplayed throughout the show, but when he steps into the spotlight and takes his moment, his vocal agility and control is evident.

The second comes from Greenwich Panto royalty, Andrew Pollard. Having penned his 13th Greenwich script and tirelessly directed the show, Pollard dons some fake boobs and a dress and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand from the moment he steps on stage. His script is well crafted to incorporate local jokes without alienating those of us who have travelled further. 

With great song choices from Pollard and Musical Director Steve Markwick, audience old and young were singing along and tapping their feet. The finale fell a little flat and was a bit of a lacklustre ending, especially after a rousing rendition of Black Pudding Bertha for the songsheet right before!

With the production values of a great west-end show but with tickets just a fraction of the price, Greenwich panto has everything you want in a Christmas panto. Long may Greenwich Theatre and the wonderful team there continue to make magical shows for at least another 50 years.

Review by Max Topliss

Rating: ★★★★★

Price of Ticket: £30.00
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