A beaut of a classic retold
My sixyearold’s fanciful hopes of a foot-tapping Disneyesque production of Beauty and the Beast were quickly dashed by the first glimpse of the minimalist set.
No, this was Peterborough’s enterprising Lamphouse Theatre doing what it does best: Improvised set with a handful of props - a wardrobe which is a portal to many places including a loo - an armchair, some steps, a suitcase and a model village and castle - with a cast of just three playing all the parts. Quirky and a little bit bonkers at times, it was as entertaining as it was unique.
The trio make their first appearance as the narrators, staff of the Prince (played by James Blake Butler) and stricken by the same curse that had transformed him into Beast.
And through their storytelling, character switches, music, song and humour provide 90-minutes of great energised theatre as the search for a good woman for him to love (Bee, played by Zoe Bullock) - only after a case of mistaken identity with her mother (Jill Dowse).
I did enjoy the interplay between the characters and puppets in playing out a number of scenes, particularly the tumbling masonry from the castle. And the journey to the castle was cleverly portrayed to great effect.
The characterisation of the Beast (costume made by Daniel Cook from System of Strings theatre company) first seen in silhouette, was also a triumph.
Look out for performances through December at lamphousetheatre.co.uk
Review: Brad Barnes
Photo from Thomas Byron Photography