Reviews: Sleeping Beauty and the Night that Autumn Turned to Winter
I spent many Christmases as a child going to pantos starring actors from Australian soap operas, but I’ve never seen a festive show quite like Bristol Old Vic’s take on the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.
Everyone loves the classic gender reversed elements of traditional pantomines but the Old Vic takes it to a new level. This time the prince is the character who pricks his finger before falling asleep for a 100 years, and the tracksuit wearing streetwise Deilen his ‘princess’ who wakes him not with a romantic kiss but accidentally with CPR before setting off on a quest to find ‘the leaves that hang but do not grow’, the part of the story based on a Welsh folk tale.
The show is absolutely hilarious in places, especially the ladies (yes, some are played by men) of the Women’s Institute who fill the role of the fairy godmothers. Their scene involving a multi-person telephone conversation is one of the funniest stage performances we’ve seen in a long time, and Stu Goodwin is stupendous as the evil Sylvia who delivers several scene stealing performances that we couldn’t help but hiss at.
The staging is very simple but it’s multi-functional sections are well used as the characters move between the royal palace, forests, lakes and Sylvia’s Hansel and Gretel-like cottage in the woods.
We can’t write too much more as it will give the story away but what we can say is that it’s a show not be missed. Five stars!
Sleeping Beauty wasn’t the only show we saw during our trip. We also experienced The Night that Turned to Winter, the Christmas show in the Old Vic’s Studio theatre.
As we wrote in our review of the Madame Macadam Travelling Theatre, the Studio never ceases to amaze us with how the space can be changed and they’ve done it again with this show.
The story is set in a forest on the last day of autumn as the local animals prepare to find shelter and food before the dark days of winter arrive.
Three actors take on the role of all the furry and not so furry friends which is no mean feat! I defy you to find more convincing human frogs, squirrels and badgers!
With a 0-7 age recommendation we were a little worried that our nine year old would feel far two grown up to join in but she very enthusiastically cheered and waved in all the right places. I also have to admit that this 39-year-old also couldn’t help but take part either!
For 50 minutes we really did feel like we were in a magical forest of creatures and left wishing it could all come true.
The show is joyously silly and a perfect festive treat for the all the family. We think everyone from seven to 70 will enjoy it! Well done Old Vic, you have another five stars!
Sleeping Beauty continues at the Bristol Old Vic until 17 January and The Night Autumn Turned into Winter runs until 10 January.