Sleeping Beauty at Norwich Theatre Royal has everything a panto could possibly need and more! There were plenty of classic panto one liners, a sprinkle of Norfolk-isms, incredible costumes and just the right amount of cheese, slapstick comedy, innuendoes and audience participation. It was impossible not to beam from ear to ear throughout the performance. If we weren’t smiling we were in fits of giggles or shouting at the top of our voices. If this doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit I don’t know what will!
We were welcomed to Norbridge Abbey, a decadent Downton Abbey style grand county mansion in the Norfolk countryside. The performance told the tale of Patience, a chamber maid who was in love with the charming master Norbridge. She was about to turn 18 and had questions about her past. It turned out that she was a Princess in hiding. Her Aunt, played by the brilliantly wicked Gillan Wright put a curse on her as a child. Just before the curse was due to be lifted the evil Aunt Vipera returned and put her to sleep for 100 years. Would her dashing young lover and the rest of hapless cast be able to save her?
If you think you know the well-loved tale – think again! In true panto style there were twists and turns and series of side splittingly ridiculous events thrown into the mix. You never knew or were never able to predict what was coming next, and that was all part of panto’s charm.
The performance by the cast was sleek and polished, Elizabeth Carter and Glenn Adamson both both played sickeningly convincing roles as starstruck lovers, despite the utter chaos erupting around them. They certainly knew how to belt out a tune or two as well! You couldn’t help but fall in love with the haplessly romantic Lord Teddy Norbridge in his pinstriped suit. Chortwood the Butler, played by the much loved Derek Griffiths was the dark horse of the show. He woo-ed the audience with his dulcet tones and dance moves, before shocking us with his real identity.
That said the stars of the show are the hysterical mother and son duo – Muddles Midges and Mrs Midges. It’s easy to see why Richard Gauntlett (who coincidentally, wrote and directed the performance) and Ben Langley return year on year. Hilarious skits, one liners and innuendoes aside, the real magic behind their performance was their ability to feed off and respond to the audiences energy. At times you felt like you were part of the cast and that they were tailoring the performance to you.
Both the costumes and the set were phenomenal as well. They really added to the magic of the whole performance. I adored the all pink, glittering set at the end and the cartoon-esque blow up thorns that surrounded the castle. It really emphasised the whimsical child-like sense of fun of the whole piece. The costumes dazzled and moved perfectly through the dance scenes. They were bright, bold and very panto; yet rather on trend for the eras we visited during the performance. The little bug costumes were especially cute and I wouldn’t have minded owning one or two of the sparkly dresses!
What I really loved about the performance though, was the whole Norfolk-ness of it. From Muddles’ hilarious accents to the jibes at Great Yarmouth, complaints about the A11 and Mrs Holt, it was perfectly tailored to Norfolk.
So if you thought panto was for kids, think again! This twenty something thoroughly embraced her inner child for the evening and had a whale of time. In fact she still has face ache from smiling and rock hard abs from laughing so much! Sleeping Beauty at Norwich Theatre Royal is the Christmas treat that everyone need this year, whether you’re 5 or 105 you’ll have a blast. Oh yes you will!
Sleeping Beauty at Norwich Theatre Royal runs until 14th January 2017, click here for tickets or call the box office on 01603 630000. If you want to know what goes on behind the scenes in the costume department click here and if you want to read the rest of my reviews click here.
Image Credit – Simon Finlay Photography