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Review - Sleeping Beauty

Harold Pinter Theatre

Playing until 31st December 2023

Review {AD-PR Invite}

Featuring the talents of Rupaul’s Drag Race UK contestants, this drag panto of Sleeping Beauty by Tuckshop tells the tale of Carabosse’s (Victoria Scone) revenge on the kingdom ruled by King Clyde (LoUis CYfer) and Queen Camilla (Kate Butch), cursing their new-born baby girl, Princess Beauty (Kitty Scott Claus), to die on her sixteenth birthday.


Although taking elements of the well-known fairy tale, it is evident that this panto is geared toward the adult audience with explicit innuendos. The highlights of this production lie in its references to the Drag Race and clever use of reworked or well-timed use of songs including “Ghostbusters”, “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream”, “Don’t stop Believing” and “Dance the Night Away”. For those who yearns for something more festive, worry not, the sex toys and innuendos filled version of “Twelve Days of Christmas” is also featured. As far as audience participation goes, which is practically tradition for this kind of show, this is actually fairly tamed, with only a single person asked to directly participate, with the rest composed of group responses to the performers’ spoken cues.


For those who are familiar with Rupaul’s Drag Race, they would surely be tickled by the mention of the show’s winners and elimination of those in this show and the explicit shades thrown at each other, including when Marouli tells Scone that “all the fat ones look the same”. However, while appreciating that this show appeals to the Drag Race audience, many references will likely be lost to those who are unfamiliar or not avid fans of the show. Furthermore, to capitalise on the Drag Race effect, it would have been fantastic to see an actual lip synch for your life sequence.


Like many pantomimes, the traditional lead character, in this case Princess Beauty, isn’t always the key focus of the show. Nonetheless, whenever Kitty Scott Claus is on stage, she commands the attention of the audience and delivers an exceptional performance. Kate Butch also deserves a specific mention and is easily the standout performer among the drag queens. Queen Camilla makes various references to the British Royal Family, including her forgetful husband, who mistook Camilla as Diana one morning and thought he had her killed in the 90s. Throughout the show, it is Queen Camilla that leads the royal family, including the king and queen’s adopted clumsy daughter, Muddles (Yshee Black). Supporting the drag queens are Zach Parkin and Mukeni Nel in the ensemble, who provide the more professional choreographs, dance routines and stage support for the other actors. Even though they have no spoken lines, their physical movements add a layer of finesse to the show.


Act I is delivered at pace, covering a huge amount of fairly coherent materials (as far as pantos go), but places the what appears to be a more improvised nature of Act II under the spotlight. Far from a well-polished production, this panto has moments of awkward pauses and some of the jokes don’t quite bounce off each character as smoothly as perhaps intended. The “Ghostbuster” song in Act II, which saw the removal of the royal family one by one by ghosts felt particularly drawn out and was repeated four times before we saw the end of this sequence.


This adult and drag oriented pantomime is naughty, fun and full of sass, but given the talents presented and the nature of the show, it was more reserved than anticipated and could have been even naughtier or more sassy.


Writer: Miss Mopp

Director: Chris Clegg

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