Waking Beauty

Waking Beauty is a new take on the traditional fairy story of Sleeping Beauty set in a re-purposed circular room papered with stencils and pasted pages of old books, fairy lights, fake flowers and cushions.

The story grapples bravely with an emotive subject and cleverly imagines the psychological damage homophobia would inflict upon the iconic figure of the beautiful princess.

Not Cricket Productions present an intelligent and fun piece that gets progressively darker as the story unfolds. A mother brings up her beautiful daughter to believe that one day she will marry a handsome prince, her beauty famed throughout the land. Finally the day comes where at a huge ball at the palace the Prince spots the girl and immediately falls passionately in love with her. They marry and begin their happily ever after.

But then things start to go horribly wrong. On their wedding night the prince is delighted to finally sleep with his bride, but she is repulsed by him and overcome by a mysterious illness. The night before a stranger’s visit has unsettled the princess and this disquiet turns to madness. Her mother locks her up in their cottage and refuses the increasingly frustrated Prince entry until her daughter has made a full recovery.

The story romps along at a good pace before revealing its clever twist which explores what happens when a fairy tale princess realises she is gay. The character of her lover is ostracised, bullied and branded as a witch and the handsome prince’s behaviour becomes increasingly ugly when he discovers the truth of his new wife’s feelings.

The actors are perky and energetic but none of them over act. The mother and prince characters are played for laughs but the jokes are never hammed up so their more serious moments remain legitimate. The Princess’s lover is particularly good, the actor portraying the role with sensitivity and poise so that the audience are left in no doubt that the Princess could and would love her deeply. The Princess herself perfectly embodies the fairy tale persona of winsome innocence and sparkling beauty, the crux of the show being that this pampered child has to learn to make her own choices to reach true happiness.

Inevitably with this kind of pastiche there are some elements that feel stale. The cheap Georgian costumes are a bit bland and there is a lot of convoluted scene changing which gets dull. That said there is an emotional maturity to this work that puts it above many other fairy tale retellings. The story grapples bravely with an emotive subject and cleverly imagines the psychological damage homophobia would inflict upon the iconic figure of the beautiful princess. 

Reviews by Lettie Mckie

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Performances

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The Blurb

Once upon a time there lived a beautiful maiden. She dreamt her whole life of marrying the prince and being a princess. But as her happily ever after begins, a stranger appears on her mother’s doorstep and a strange sickness comes upon her. The prince sets out to save her troubled soul but what is he saving her from? Will this curse destroy her happy ending? This contemporary fairytale questions how much we choose who and what we are. Why should a girl want to be a fairytale princess? What if the maiden’s happiness isn’t the fairytale ending?

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