Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Stuart Paterson's latest Lyceum Christmas show blends the stories of Sleeping Beauty, the Frog Prince, and the twelve dancing princesses into a Christmas extravaganza which, although slow-moving at times during the first act, fully captured the attention of the eleven-year-old who accompanied me to the show.
There are similarities between this and Paterson's last Christmas show, The Princess & The Goblin, in the feisty heroine and a lot of the humour - which might also be related to the panto tradition which the show echoes, but does not fully realize.
Under the direction of Tony Cownie, each of the actors gives a performance suited to their part. King (Eric Barlow) and Mara (Mary McCusker) are fairly one-dimensional characters, presented as the protective father and nursemaid. There are moments when the Queen (Eilidh Fraser) seems to understand her daughter's feelings, but for the most part, Princess Margarita (Laura Donnelly) is on her own in her quest for independence. Brian Laurie's Prince Corin is the most three-dimensional character on stage, the only one to seem to face any real internal conflict whatsoever (and granted, it's a kid's story, but this element made Corin one of the most engaging characters in the tale - and I'm not just saying this because Laurie is a recent graduate of the acting programme at my own school, QMUC).
There is something about Sleeping Beauty that just doesn't click into place. Saying this, I wish I could point out exactly what it was - because it seems unfair to leave it at Sleeping Beauty's not living up to The Princess & The Goblin, and also unfair to hold one production team up to the standards of another. But cheesy special effects such as echoing voices and fire flashing from the fingers of the two "Queens" during "battle scenes" added to my difficulties in suspending disbelief.
Most audience members seemed satisfied with the fantastic elements of the production, but I found that Doug Russell (as Baayo the Bear and Prince Fomfoma) and Malcolm Shields (as Puddlefoot the Frog and Prince Zozzo) lent far more of a feeling of fairytale magic to the play than the special effects attached to the presences (or indeed the presences themselves) of the characters of Zielle (Shonagh Price) or Talassa (Julie Austin).
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody