Review: Beauty & The Beast @ The Redgrave Theatre
Posted on: 2019-12-23
“The perfect treat for the festive season"
This Christmas sees The Redgrave Theatre's very first professional pantomime. A sparkly and stylish production, the pantomime has been staged in partnership with the award-winning theatre company, Polka Dot Pantomimes. It's a spellbinding version of Beauty & The Beast.
Running until 31 December 2019, this awesome production makes use of impressive scenery, vibrant visual effects and glittering costumes to bring a well-loved tale to life. With gags aplenty, lively choreography and oodles of audience participation, the talented cast whisk the audience off to rural France. Here, an assortment of captivating characters leads the audience on an enchanting adventure.
The production follows the classic tale of the beautiful peasant girl Belle, who is bored with her provincial life and longs for something more. With her determination and adventurous spirit, she crosses paths with the temperamental and cantankerous Beast. A once handsome prince, the Beast is cursed by an evil sorceress, condemned to spend eternity as a hideous creature. Unless he can find true love, that is. The Beast imprisons Belle, but with the help of her friends Dame Dolly Doughnut and French Franc, she begins to recognise the good in the Beast. After lots of to-ing and fro-ing, we, of course, reach the happy ending that is obligatory in panto.
The audience was gripped from the start as the sugary-sweet Fairy Flambé, played by Helena Mitchell, took to the stage. The stage design was simple but effective. We were transported effortlessly from a quaint village to opulent palace; from a haunted wood to the foul fairy's lair by way of simply drawn sets and curtains designed to reinforce the customary pantomime vibe.
Everyone dutifully booed and hissed the nasty fairy Grimalkin, played with malevolent relish by local actress Amanda Love, who imbued the character with just the right amount of spoof evil. Emma Wilson as Belle and Benny Bright as her troubled love interest were fantastic and embraced the true spirit of pantomime, too. Fun and energetic, they were the perfect leads - though maybe overshadowed slightly by the production's adorable panto puppy Devon, whose appearance as Belle's best buddy drew many 'oohs' and 'ahhs' from the crowd.
The whole undertaking had a lively party atmosphere, with recognisable contemporary music used often to move the story forward and capture the audience - everyone was clapping and singing along. And the laughs kept coming thanks to Daniel Chambers as French Franc - a first-class fool in the time-honoured tradition - and Dame Dolly. The Dame, who with her array of fab-u-lous frocks and topical witticisms had the folk of Bristol sniggering, even when spraying them with a water pistol and eliciting chortles at their expense.
This is a truly magical traditional family pantomime, with all the usual bells and whistles to make it appeal to people of all ages. Fabulous entertainment for all the family, Beauty and the Beast at The Redgrave Theatre is the perfect treat for the festive season.
Sarah-Jane is an aficionado of film, theatre, culture and the arts. A voracious reader and avid crafter, she can be found volunteering her face painting talents at Bristol Zoo when she's not cementing her reputation as Coalpit Heath’s cake maker extraordinaire. Known to have an opinion on everything she’s never happier than when sharing these with the good folk of Bristol!