Review: Beauty and the Beast
Photo by Nick Rutter
Jamie Mawson - Beau
Robyn Grant - Beast
Aaron Dart - Ensemble
Allie Munro - Ensemble
Katie Wells - Ensemble
She's grotesque. A possessive beast of a woman, to be sure. But look on the bright side, Beau: she's got a lovely personality. Somewhere. Under all the fur.
A fairytale land, far, far away.
A handsome young bookworm who always dreamt of more.
A hideous beast, in her cursed castle …
It's a tale as old as time, as you've never heard it before.
This Christmas, from the creators of the award-winning sellout hit Buzz: A New Musical, comes a big hairy dollop of festive fun.
With a cast of five and an onstage musician, Fat Rascal Theatre take a searing look at whether fairytales really can come true - even when the princess doesn't quite fit the slipper.
Join us for our brand new, gender-swapped musical parody of Beauty and the Beast.
Originally a traditional fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740, Beauty and the Beast is now traditional fare in the panto offerings at this time of year.
Eschewing the standard rendition, but borrowing some of the essentials, Fat Rascal Theatre here present a musical parody of the original and, at least to some extent, Disney's latest romantic variation of the plot.
In Fat Rascals' hands, Beauty becomes a boy called Beau and the Beast, sporting horns and hooves (in an inventive costume design by Hugh Purves), is a princess languishing in a fairytale castle with only talking kitchenware, like teapots and mugs, and a magic mirror for company.
Jamie Mawson's Beau certainly has the boy-next-door good looks to (one would imagine) charm a female Beast, but he's also the obsession of the local female fox-hating toff who will stop at nothing to have Beau as her husband.
That sets up the inexorable conflict which figures for resolution in a spirited, but totally expected denouement.
Jamie Mawson as Beau - photo by Nick Rutter
Beau, however, is more into culture and literature, in particular the works of Jane Austen - his mantra being to ask "What would Jane Austen do (WWJAD)" in times of doubt and crisis.
His interest in the arts seems to have been fostered by his mother, Maureen, who most of the inhabitants of their "uninspiring town" regard as mad, possibly in part because she has a penchant for creating 'lesbian ceramics' (whatever those might be).
There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, thanks to some neatly mocking and cleverly written notes in Robyn Grant and Daniel Elliot's well-honed script.
Opening the creaking gates of the Beast's castle, Beau wonders whether it's "National Trust" and, predictably given the title and the principal character, he considers whether he might be "open to bestiality"!
Moreover, he enjoys "the most wonderful colonic" in the castle's spa and discovers an interesting, furry implement while rummaging through the Beast's secret room.
Robyn Grant as the Beast - photo by Nick Rutter
Interestingly, though, the biggest laugh of the evening came when the Beast corrected Beau about her table not being one of the magical variety - which demonstrates, perhaps, that the most unlikely, almost throw-away line can unexpectedly tickle the ribs of even the most judgemental of adult audiences.
Jamie Mawson's casual and playfully naive comments, combined with some effective movement techniques, provides an endearing hero to contrast with Robyn Grant's hairy, horn-toting beast whose ravings start to mellow when she meets her literature-loving counterpart.
And there's good work from the rest of the ensemble who manage to keep the lid on the chaos that at times threatens to burst forth, especially when members of the cast have to double-up on roles.
Beauty and the Beast joins the annual panto from Charles Court Opera, King Tut - A Pyramid Panto, in the King's Head Theatre's festive schedule.
Comparisons are always rather odious, but I think King Tut has the edge in the singing department, though Beauty and the Beast certainly compares more than favourably or even a tad funnier in the comedy domain - if in doubt, my counsel is to see both since you can't have too much panto ... or can you?
All-in-all, this version of Beauty and the Beast parodies the original with self-assured, comedic sangfroid thanks to a well-written script and jauntily energetic and agreeably entertaining performances.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for King's Head Theatre
Our show listing for Beauty and the Beast
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