English Christmas pantomimes are inherently formulaic, so there is a list of things one expects from the local panto- men dressed as women, glittering costumes, top forty hits and thinly veiled adult jokes that keep the wine-tipsy parents entertained whilst their kids waive glow toys in the air. This year’s production of Sleeping Beauty at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley delivers all of the key ingredients from the traditional Panto recipe except for one- a good time.
Marc Baylis (Coronation Street) stars as the prince opposite Sophia Thierens (Monkee Business) as Sleeping Beauty; the lack of chemistry between these two is dull to watch, especially when the duo bursts into one of their stagnantly romantic duets. The only remedy to this tedious Panto comes in the form of Jamie Rickers, (Nickelodeon Presenter) who was tirelessly energetic and managed to keep the kids happy with his portrayal of the castle fool- Silly Billy. Zoe Birkett (Pop Idol) was animated and dynamic in her performance as the evil witch Carabosse, she is also very nice to look at, which made me wonder why she wasn’t cast as Sleeping Beauty in the first place.
This production as a whole was stale and for lack of a better word–poor. The costumes didn’t leave an impression; neither did the humble set, the writing was hollow and the jokes half-hearted. All in all it lacked the signature pizzazz and shebang we have all come to expect from a Christmas Panto.
On a brighter note Sleeping Beauty includes mild pyrotechnics, water gun fights and countless breaches of the fourth wall, which, despite the Panto’s other flaws, seemed to be enough to keep the younger ones in the audience happy and laughing.
Reviewed by Jacqueline Silvester
Sleeping Beauty is playing at the Churchill Theatre Bromley until 4 January 2015