The Sleeping Beauty

Date 27th February 2022
Society The MAD Company
Venue Millennium Centre, Liphook
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Vanessa K. Breach
Choreographer Vanessa K. Breach
Written By Vanessa K. Breach

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

I know from past experience that the MAD Company always produces a panto with a difference, and quality is very much to the forefront. I was not disappointed and neither, judging by their enthusiastic response, was the packed audience. Director and Writer Vaness K. Breach has woven into the usual story of Sleeping Beauty, a trip back in time to the stone age, an encounter with a dinosaur (instead of the usual panto ghost) and then another trip forward in time to avoid the prince aging one hundred years. Ingenious.

Guiding us through the story, we had Nanny Napalot, endearingly played by Mick Selley in some wonderful outfits, and Chuckles the Court Jester (Claire Fewings) who seemed to have boundless energy, befriending the audience and frolicking around the stage. Spit and Polish (great performances by Olivia Tress and Hannah Titchard) were the very shouty Palace Guards, while Rebecca Willows made a bossy but nice Queen Pillowslips with Tony Robinson cowering and simpering as her husband King Duvet. Matilda West was beautifully elegant as their daughter Princess Sweetdreams being wooed by Tatum Shields as Prince Valance in true thigh-slapping panto style. 

Mandy Coluccia was perfectly evil as the baddy, Fairy Nettles, with wonderful makeup and costume, really earning her boos and hisses. Tempering her evil were the two genial fairies: Fairy Lavender (Denis Titchard) and Fairy Camomile (William Rawlings) using their difference in size to good effect in their squabbling.

Of course, I mustn’t forget the many children involved. Right down to the very tiniest, they were engaged throughout the show and really charmed the audience with their numbers “Mums and Dads” and “So Long, Farewell”.

I enjoyed the choice of music throughout the show (mostly from my youth!) and although it was all sung to backing tracks, it was well within the capabilities of the singers and was put across well. My favourites were “Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty” (under-used in panto, in my opinion) and “If I were not upon this stage” which was hilarious and must have taken ages to rehearse!

Right from the start, as the cast paraded in with food for a banquet, the quality keynote was obvious: so many wonderful food props! Someone had worked very hard to produce them all. Later on we were treated to a Victorian time machine, another fantastic piece of work with a propeller on top, all lit up. Backdrops too were excellent – and the costumes throughout were wonderfully inventive, colourful and sparkly. Everything in the show down to the programme, and even the tickets, had been well thought out and nicely produced. A big well done to everyone involved behind the scenes – your contributions were just as vital as those of the people on stage.

Add in a lot of good old corny jokes, two rounds of audience participation, a very clever scene proving that 13 x 7 equals 28 (I still haven’t worked that one out) and you have a show with all the traditional panto elements that was well directed and performed, and that kept a capacity crowd of adults and children fully entertained. If I have one minor criticism it is that each half of the show could have done with being a little shorter, as they exceeded the ability of the children near me to concentrate, but that’s a very small quibble.

Another triumph for the MAD Company – well done everyone involved.