Sleeping Beauty - Dream On

  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Sleeping Beauty - Dream On

A large-scale new take on the familiar fairy tale, led by Chickenshed's professional company, and featuring a cast of hundreds drawn from the youth company and various community theatre groups. It's not, they're at pains to point out, a traditional panto, but a 'fresh and funky new version of a familiar story'. Ages 5+.


Event phone: 020 8292 9222
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Sleeping Beauty - Dream On is absolutely incredible. The cast are - without exception - fantastic, the script is fast-paced and witty, and the soundtrack could honestly be released on a CD of its own. The show itself is up-to-date, relevant, and captures the everyday family perfectly. The plot follows the story of Beauty - a princess who is spoilt rotten, and as a result turns into the moodiest, brattiest teenager in the existence. She's whisked away to Elphinstone School, where she quickly becomes the most popular kid in the playground. After a run in with her evil godmother, Myrtle, she falls into a deep sleep. However, instead of sleeping for 100 years, she's taken back to the 70s to learn her lessons, and change her story for good. What really sets Chickenshed apart from the rest is the 180-strong ensemble - playing a variety of characters, from rebellious schoolchildren to shimmering party-goers, from tartan-clad punks to "trippy, dippy, hippies" (sic). They really add an extra dimension to the play, and their energy is infectious. Special mention must go to Charlie Kemp and Ashley Maynard as the two consciences. They appear throughout, acting as storytellers - their seemingly semi-improvised scenes, which feed from audience participation, are outstanding. The set, lighting, and costume designs also deserve commendation. Without giving too much away, the set is constantly changing and moving to fit the cast, and the lighting is designed to add to the audience's experience of the play, as opposed to simply lighting up the stage. The costumes are simply fantastic, fitting the characters perfectly, and really adding to the aesthetic appeal of the production. I also feel obliged to mention that the whole play is signed in BSL, not by an off-stage signer who is distinct from the play, but by characters woven into the scenes themselves. This is possibly entirely unique to Chickenshed, and even if you're hearing, you find yourself drawn in by their sheer energy and expression. Overall, if you're looking for a traditional pantomime with the standard booing and hissing, this might not be for you. However, if you want to see a truly inclusive company telling the most creative adaptation of Sleeping Beauty to date, a show with one of the most energetic and talented casts in London, or just want a fun night out, I cannot recommend this show enough.