Reviewed by Cath Joyce
I love visiting the theatre, it is one of the things I have missed the most during the lockdown. I was really excited when I heard that The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster were showing a socially distanced production of Sleeping Beauty and couldn’t wait to see it. The Dukes is one of our favourite theatres, always managing to bring a new twist to an old tale.
As we took our places in The Round the first thing we noticed was the reduced number of seats. The Dukes are ensuring a safe performance by selling seats in pods, leaving a good distance between groups. This makes what was always a small intimate space even more so! The central set had a definite knitting theme, the link with Sleeping Beauty wasn’t immediately obvious but it soon became clear when we were introduced to the two fairy godmothers, Lyn and Flax, who were two little old ladies complete with handbags, knitting and the all important magic wand, which in a knitting themed set just had to be knitting needles!
Written and directed by Sarah Punshon and Daniel Bye, Sleeping Beauty is an inventive and exciting show full of storytelling, music, joy and love that promises to warm the heart. The play opens with Rosie, a young girl bored with staying in the house and desperate for adventure. Her mother worries about danger and reminds Rosie about a distant aunt who pricked her finger on a thorn and fell asleep for 300 years. Rosie is having none of that though and sets off into the forest…
The minimal stage worked really well, flowers sprang from the ground to lead Rosie into the forest and I especially liked the enchanted creepers which grew from the forest floor, ensnaring our hero. Together with lighting and sound effects they created a magical, atmospheric forest scene.
With only two actors playing all the different roles, the switching between costumes became a running joke, props took the place of characters and very simple changes made everything quite clear. A bow in the hair was the princess whilst Rosie wore glasses…. It all worked really well and added an extra dimension and plenty of laughs to the night. The cast were excellent at making the audience feel part of the show. Throughout the performance music was used to help tell the story with 5 or 6 different songs performed by the pair with accompaniment on ukulele. Performances by both actors were excellent and they certainly deserved their ovation at the end.
The script did make mention of the current Covid situation, there was the obligatory hand gel in the handbag, but it was there as more of a joke and they certainly didn’t dwell on it.
The performance lasts just over an hour with no interval. Tickets start at £32 for a pod of 2 seats and performances will take place until Sunday 6th June including afternoon performances during half term.
We really enjoyed our night out and would recommend this as a great treat for all the family now that we’re allowed out again!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Tickets start at £32 for a pod of 2 seats
Sleeping Beauty is at The Dukes, Lancaster from 25th May until 6th June, for more information or to book tickets visit https://dukeslancaster.org/ or call the box office on 01524 598500