Belfast Telegraph

Sleeping Beauty Review at Lyric Theatre: A fun, playfully entertaining journey

By Simon Fallaha

With all the big, brash pantomimes around, how about a warmer, more intimately theatrical alternative.

That's what writer Derek O'Connor, director/choreographer Deborah Maguire and the cast and crew of Sleeping Beauty seemed to offer the wet, shivering yet spirited souls who trundled up the Lyric's stairs. They were not to be let down. How could O'Connor set this well-told fairy story apart from its previous incarnations?

His modus operandi was to "(make) the journey as much fun as possible." There was no "getting to know you" period, just a surprisingly fast-paced, colourful "in your face" concoction of natural humour, post-modern irony, original tunes and deft dancing. Complemented by a tuneful score, the never really frightening yet always playfully entertaining production - isn't that what panto should be? - featured three particularly striking performances. Richard Ashton was fun to watch as the king, the impressive Jo Donnelly boomed and hollered her way out of Maleficent's shadow, and the cheery chirpiness of Kathryn Aiken's fairy Firefly pumped the production with life at the most timely of moments.

Four stars

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