Review: Beauty and the Beast, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Ruth Milne plays Beauty
Ruth Milne plays Beauty
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***

UGLY sisters, missing mothers, drunken lords and a big bad witch with a blue streak in her hair. A kind heroine, a handsome tinker, and, of course, a giant fluffy dog.

It’s a tale as old as time. But it’s a Lyceum kids’ play by Stuart Patterson, so what do you expect?

Lyceum Christmas plays have been honed over many years to create a top-notch formula, a blend between play and panto. It works every time, and punters are unlikely to come away disappointed.

Beauty and the Beast rests in the safe hands of an experienced cast, with stand-out performances from the baddies – as is so often the way – Angela Clerkin, Karen Traynor and Nicola Roy. Ruth Milne as Beauty has a special talent for radiating niceness, and quickly won the loyalty of the audience.

The Lyceum has excelled itself in the production values for this show. The set by Neil Murray is a pleasing blend of paper theatre and realism. The costumes, especially those of the three witches, are the stuff of fairy tales – which probably isn’t a coincidence.

Subtle at times, comic at others, the interaction between noise, music and action is by far the most impressive aspect of the show. Adding a few songs would help take the pressure off some of the untidy script.

What makes Beauty and the Beast unusual is that there are few concessions to the adults in the audience. There are none of the wink-nudge over-the-wee-ones’-heads jokes often added to kids’ shows to keep the parents amused. Whether adults find this disappointing or refreshing is a matter of personal taste.

The whole of Davidson’s Mains Primary School turned out in force for the morning performance on Monday. As well as being well-behaved and a credit to their school, the pupils I spoke to all loved the show.

Brodie, 11, told me that he wasn’t sure if the audience were supposed to shout “fight, fight, fight!” when the ugly sisters were arguing. “The Primary Ones started it.”

Of course, the constant audience interaction is half the fun!

Run ends 31st December