Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Review: Sleeping Beauty

Opera House, Belfast

John Linehan (left) reprises his perennial role as pantomime villain

Another year, another Opera House panto, and another occasion for John Linehan to break out the thickest pancake make-up seen since Vanessa Feltz opted for a career in radio.

But wait – something feels different this year. And it's not the seats in the stalls. After recent treading of pleasurable-enough mucky water, all the stops haven't been so much pulled out for Sleeping Beauty, as violently seized and decommissioned.

That's because it's drowning in expensive costumes, pyrotechnics, more substantial casting than the average traction ward, hi-kicking chorus lines, blousy ballads, balloon magic, mugging, mayhem and enough smut to upset your average subscriber to Keep It Clean monthly – oh, and a motorbike that takes flight above the crowd. We start with Celebrity 'cockney sparra' Lorraine Chase as the wicked fairy Carabosse – "sticks and stones can break my bones but you can shut your gob," she hissed, to slightly upset children.

The enjoyably rubbish pop-culture references would make Russell Howard dizzy.

"Scarier than a bush tucker trial," was one such gem that pilfers howls of recognition.

But still, there was enough "oh no there isn'ts" and, ahem, adult humour to go round, all wrapped in glitzy, baubly camp loveliness.

And on top of that, there was the evergreen (or is that ever-blue) Ms McFettridge, or Queen May as she is here.

May was aided and abetted by fellow scene-stealer Matt Edwards as Muddles – think pervy, playful Frank Spencer with a HND in swallowing rude-shaped balloons.

Between them they offered more two-pronged filth than an unwashed fork.

And let's not even talk about the line about getting the Hokey Cokey dance the wrong way. It is a family show after all.

So something here for kids big and small. On the whole, it was the biggest and brightest and sauciest panto in these parts (oo-err) for quite a while. Oh, except for the humpy dumpty bit – that was just plain creepy. Or "erroneous," as Carabosse might say.

JOE NAWAZ

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