Nestled in the heart of London’s Charing Cross Theatre, Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick is a delightful twist on the classic fairy tale in the form of a gay adult panto, set in, where else? The tiny kingdom of ‘Slutvia’ of course!
Under the direction of Andrew Beckett and armed with the writing of Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, a creative team seemingly unafraid to inject crude humour and modern sensibilities into the age-old narrative, this production delivers a lively and it’s fair to say, hilarious, experience that successfully had us belly laughing from beginning to end.
The title itself sets the tone for this crude and playful panto and very much says what it is ‘on the tin’. From the outset, it’s clear that this is not Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. The script, a clever amalgamation of traditional fairy-tale elements and ‘Soho’ humour, is both witty and unabashedly cheeky. The kind that keeps you chuckling along and then occasionally and unashamedly makes you gasp with disbelief of its naughtiness.
The set design, a visual feast of colour and creativity, transforms the stage into a place where fairy tales collide with the modern world. At a theatre where the technical and physical possibilities are not endless, the versatility of David Shields‘ design allows for quick and engaging scene changes, ensuring that the pace of the production remains lively without a dull moment to awake from its magical spell.
Costume designers Sandy Lloyd and Robert Draper deserve a special commendation for the visually striking and inventive wardrobe choices. The characters blend fairy-tale charm with contemporary fashion flair. The costumes not only reflect the whimsical nature of the story but also contribute to the overall aesthetic. It was both a surprise and a delight to see such detail and creativity at the Charing Cross Theatre.
Carole Todd’s choreography injects a burst of energy into the production. The choreography not only showcases the performers’ movement abilities but also often enhances the comedic elements.
The cast, led with a standout performance by Matthew Baldwin in the role of Queen Gertrude, exude charisma and comic timing. All the actors embrace the comedic elements with gusto, delivering punchlines with impeccable ease. The ensemble’s camaraderie is so enjoyable to see, creating an atmosphere that just makes you relax and have fun. It is Baldwin’s commitment to the show’s whimsical spirit which is the backbone of the production though, with a flawless talent to deliver comedic lines with the prowess of the likes of Julian Clary.
Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick also doesn’t shy away from addressing contemporary themes and societal norms, injecting a subtle layer of social commentary into the humour. The script cleverly navigates issues of consent, agency, and the evolving roles of women, adding depth to what might otherwise be dismissed as a light-hearted fairy-tale frolic.
If you’ve never seen an adult panto before, or you’re wanting a no-nonsense guaranteed evening of fun, this is the show for you!
A festive sleeper hit and no mistake – ★★★★★ 5 stars