A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!





Sleeping Beauty - One Little Prick

by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper


Director Paul Taylor-Mills

Above the Stag

25 November 2011 – 8 January 2012


This is a tale of a cursed Stratford heir, Beauty, (Matthew Ferzdenzi) who’d rather be on his back than beating the bounds, a fairy with a grudge, who puts him to sleep for a hundred years with a porcupine quill, a lost brother, and several lost loves. Life upstairs-downstairs for Beauty in 1911 is ripe for the plucking. Yet when he wakes in 2011 it’s raining men, alleluia, things have moved on, and it’s the time of the Olympics….

To the strains of Downtown Abbey, the pink-netted, frou-frou Fairy Glowstick (Mandy Dassa) navigates us through Sleeping Beauty – One Little Prick. She’s on the dippy side of dypso, has no real aptitude for spells but has some witty rhyming couplets with which she dazzles and spins.  

Throw in Carabosse, all venom and sting (the fabulous Samantha Ridings) clad in a black carapace to mix things up along the way, shake and vac two pantomime dames, Lady Gargoyle ‘all sagging frontage and no hard cash’ (a deliciously laconic Matthew Baldwin) and Aggy, (Philip Lawrence) a cocktail mix of Barbara Windsor and Marge Simpson, an eccentric, shuffling 140 year old, dribbling tortoise (Steven Rodgers)…………

……..and season with Josh the Jester, (Mitchell Lathbury) a young milky-skinned ingénue Aggie/Maggie (Ellie Fiore) who segues effortlessly from perky inn-keeper’s daughter to assertive council representative, and a vampire (Greg Airey) from Tinselvania who has more than a princely stake in Beauty’s endless sleep, and you have the ingredients for more pork crackling than a hog roast……

Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper’s clever, sharp script offers the best in pantomime treats: thrills and spills, topical references, with a welter of bad, corny jokes and some true blues – near the knuckle? Honey it’s almost up to the elbow…..There is a surfeit of goodies…..They know their stuff, their market and in Sleeping Beauty – One Little Prick they sell, sell, sell….

Favorite contrivance: a black-pudding-eating vampire who’s got Beauty’s best interests at heart. Favorite derivative: ‘by the pricking of his bum, victory to me has come.’ Favorite running gag: the pratfalls to the cellar. Favorite set piece: ‘Anything Goes.’ Favorite routine: Aggy’s front-cloth patter. Favorite outfit: Lady Gargoyle’s yellow, crab-encrusted, humbug dress……the list could go on…

With ingenious use of space to suggest the manor, an inn, a bed chamber, a zoo and an endless succession of dark, passages, the direction by Paul Taylor-Mills is brisk and fast-paced. The set (David Shields) is a glorious clash of Moorish-gothic in sugar-mouse-pink, ice-blast blue and is a veritable confection of silvers, golds, sliding backdrops, bubbles and foam which is always inventive and fun.

Sleeping Beauty - One little prick is a festive, rainbow romp – not for all the family - with slapstick, tickle and pop…..

Above the Stag Theatre
 15 Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DD
Closest Tube/National Rail: Victoria Station (100 metres)
No Performances on: Mondays except press night Monday 28 November, 23 to 29 December, 1 & 2 January 2012
Time:  Tue to Sat at 7.30pm; Sun at 6pm, Sat matinee at 3.30pm; Sun matinee at 2pm; shows on 30 and 31 December at 2pm and 6pm
Tickets: £16
Box Office: 020 8932 4747

Copyright © EXTRA! EXTRA All rights reserved