|Image Source: Epstein Theatre|
Date: April 12 2017
Location: Epstein Theatre, Liverpool, England
The Easter pantomime tradition returns once again to the Epstein Theatre with Sleeping Beauty.
Those who know the common story of Sleeping Beauty and, in particular, those who have previously seen Epstein pantos will know what to expect. We are introduced to Silly Billy (Kyle Corrin) and Dame Nurse Nellie (Michael Chapman), who are looking after the recently-born Princess Aurora. However, the evil fairy Carabosse (Tina Malone) casts a wicked curse on Aurora, which comes to fruition on the eve of her 18th birthday, by which point Aurora (Lucy Edge) has caught the eye of the handsome Prince (911 singer Lee Brennan). Cue various humorous situations as all involved look to overcome the witch's curse.
Panto shows at the Epstein tend to follow a familiar routine whereby the story is told amidst some amusing songs and variations of popular tunes (like Bodyshakin', the most famous 911 tune), as well as general daftness by the likes of Silly Billy, and some risqué double entendres by Michael Chapman's Dame Nurse Nellie character. The same formula applied here, with the biggest laughs coming from the extended musical number which saw the more mischievious characters set water guns on the audience (and as I was sat near the front of the theatre, I was one of those who got a bit soaked!), and the increasingly-naughty one-liners from Nurse Nellie.
Elsewhere, I thought that Lucy did a good job as the Princess in distress, particularly during musical scenes where she was able to demonstrate their vocal skills. Obviously, the same applies to Lee Brennan, who had just come from the local hospital hours beforehand with a broken finger to continue performing. But I thought that Tina Malone was the star of the show, bringing plenty of acting experience to not only deliver a perfect characterisation of an evil witch, but to bring about some one-liners and humorous facials when the situation called for it. There was also amusement to be had from the occasional script mishaps and unexpected trips at various points.
I thought that the settings were really good, bringing you right into environments such as the Princess' castle and the dark woods, and the costumes were as good as ever, as it's clear that a lot of work goes into the attires of the various characters. On the downside, the audio was a bit of an issue, especially during some of the musical numbers as it became incredibly hard at times to hear what was being said or sung.
Summing this up, I felt that Aladdin, the most recent Christmas panto at the Epstein, was a stronger show overall, but if Easter fun and frolics for all the family are what you're looking for, then you'll have a great time watching Sleeping Beauty at the Epstein Theatre.
Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good