Sleeping Beauty, Review | Duston Players, Northampton

Johnathan Freeth’s unusual, yet fascinating take on the popular fairy-tale ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at Duston Community Centre left the audience with warm hearts and smiles from ear to ear.

Set in the enchanted land of Snoozitania, in the era of the 60’s, it channels various themes and messages; love always wins, the importance of team work and that it’s okay to be different.

An effective atmosphere was created immediately after the curtain had risen – the time and effort that went into creating the realistic set was apparent. There were flowers at the front of the stage which were, unbeknown to the audience, set to be dispatched throughout the play by the younger members of the cast – a sweet and memorable touch. ‘Honk’ (Sue Jugon) and ‘Shoo’ (Toni Clarke) two very comedic characters, skilfully and discretely moved props during their performances and created smooth links between scenes.

The costume design assisted greatly in bringing Freeth’s story to life – the chorus were dressed in bright and fun colours that set the scene for the style of the Pantomime. Lord Phantasm (Alistair Way) and Magnifica (Jen Kenny), the Panto’s evil villains, were dressed in dark colours, which re-enforced the dark personas so brilliantly portrayed by these two performers. Lord Phantasm carries a feather with him throughout, twirling it around and pointing it towards the audience, really engaging their attention – whilst also handling the hecklers in the audience with comedy and confidence.

All the cast members and crew gave 100%, and were on point with their timing. Grown-Up Beauty, played by Emily Lyon, stole the show musically with her angelic, haunting voice perfect for her character (although she was a little hard to hear.)

Sleeping Beauty cast in rehearsal

One of the first characters on set was Dame Dozy who was, in true Panto style, performed by a gentleman, Tim Dwelly. Dame Dozy really got the audience involved and often directed ‘Panto banter’ into the crowd, with ripples of laughter across the audience. Dame Dozy is a very suggestive character that appeals to all members of the audience – younger members of the audience find her aesthetically humorous and the adults understand her  innuendos both scripted and improvised.

Actor Deni James who played ‘Older Perky’, for such a tender age, showed signs of real performing talent, using brilliant inflection and excellent vocal projection at all times. He stumbled ever so slightly, but composed himself and with dignity and confidence, and carried on, like a true performer!

Overall, the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Pantomime, directed by Myhill and Cockcroft, was everything that I expected and more. The bond between the actors on and off stage was heart-warming, the comic pauses and timing were faultless and the script was relevant and cleverly written for all to understand and enjoy.

Duston Players should all be very proud of themselves and each other. ‘OH YES THEY SHOULD!’

Review: Alexandra Robinson

Performance: Wednesday 28 November 2018, Duston Commmunity Centre.


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