Beauty And The Beast
The Lyceum, Edinburgh
As is traditional, the Lyceum focuses its efforts on telling a beautiful story and not on any beastly adult humour or songs. The set is up to the usual high standards, as are the costumes, although without quite the exuberance of last year's menagerie with its polar bears. However one wouldn't want to upstage the newly arrived bears from China.
The Beast (Andrew Rothney) is huge, a hairy minotaur towering over the sweet Beauty (Ruth Milne), both played with touching earnestness. It is aimed perfectly at children with humour but without camp foolery or ridiculous digressions from the story. The villain of the piece, witch Crackjaw (Angela Clerkin), didn't diminish the evil of her sinister gothic costume and make-up with too much hamminess.
The show tells the story clearly and succinctly, although there are times when you wish for a little more humour. Having said that, Dunt (Mark McDonnell) and the ugly sisters Hannah (Nicola Roy) and Hazel (Karen Traynor), with their strong Scots voices, are fun as the more childish characters. McDonnell should be particularly commended not just for getting laughs but also for pulling off one of the strongest and believable accents, despite being from south of the border.
The sisters are a loud, brash double act with their west coast bravado contrasting well with, and also making you side with, the lovers. There was a definite central message of not judging a book by its cover; the sisters mess up in their gold digging for husbands while Beauty is pleasantly surprised when the Beast returns to a very tidy human form.
The children in the audience really got involved, including one child, a heckler in the making, pre-empting Beauty's redemption of the Beast. The piece doesn't patronise children and it really feels like a proper family event.
Until 31 December
Reviewer: Seth Ewin