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Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick | Charing Cross Theatre

The team who made a string of hit adult pantos for the now-closed LGBT+ venue, Above The Stag, have returned this year making their off-West End debut at the Charing Cross Theatre with Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick! Moving from a 100-seater theatre to a 265-seater, this is a big upgrade and on a much larger scale, but does it work?

Absolutely! This show is a lot of fun, but definitely not your usual pantomime. The script (John Bradfield and Martin Hooper) cleverly mixes all the traditional pantomime features and jokes with hilarious adult fun, often putting a filthy twist on the usual panto jokes. This is truly a laugh-out-loud show and there was never a dull moment in this script. It is filthy and definitely not a family-friendly show - with the town the show is set in being called Slutvia with their residents being called Sluts. That only gives you a small taste of the nature of this definite adult pantomime, and it was a nice breather from other innocent child-friendly pantos that I've seen previously.

The entire cast worked very hard and it was evident much fun they were having on stage, which made the audience have a great time too. The atmosphere in the theatre was electric and it was clear that everyone was there to have a good time. Although the entire cast did an amazing job, the standout performance was from Matthew Baldwin as the panto dame, Queen Gertrude. If you think that traditional panto dames are very fun and camp, times that by 100 and you get Matthew's performance. He had the audience in the palm of his hand and delivered some of the most hysterical moments of the show. Just like any pantomime, not everything went right, but Matthew made the most of it and made these moments into joyful, funny moments and made jokes out of it which is very hard to do.

Tom Mann plays Prince Arry, the prince who it turns out is gay, and plays this character's story both beautifully and with a hilarious twist. Amongst all the jokes, this queer love story in a pantomime was beautiful to watch, and him and Myles Hart, who plays Zupp (the prince's crush, who is also an alien from outer space!) have great chemistry and some brilliant scenes together. Myles plays Zupp as a brilliantly camp and sassy character, who acts and dresses very differently to the other characters, and this was another stand-out performance.

The set design (David Shields) is big and sparkly, utilising the traditional panto set look but with some twists, which worked very well on this stage. This is a huge upgrade from their previous productions at the smaller Above The Stag theatre. For a relatively small stage, it is used very well and has some spectacular scene changes and sets. The changes were, most of the time, done by the set revolving or folding to show a different set behind it. As well as the clever use of curtains moving across the stage horizontally to show different cloth's. How one scene magically changed into another in these brilliant ways was really magical to watch and encompassed what pantomime is all about. The set is very well designed and very innovative for the Charing Cross stage.

Traditional pantomimes usually use already released songs as the soundtrack, utilising well-known pop and musical theatre songs. However, this show was different with all the music being original songs and orchestrations specifically for this show. Orchestrated by Aaron Clingham, who's also the musical director of the show, there are only six songs in the show, but they are all brilliantly written and orchestrated. Not having as many songs as other pantomimes isn't a problem for me as the songs the show does have are very strong. This also creates more time for jokes and scenes, which is, in my opinion, the best part of the show. The music combines the traditional panto sound and music style with some brilliant jokes in the lyrics and queer, filthy twists combined to create some fantastic ear-worms which I am still humming today!

Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick has all the traditional panto elements, including "He's Behind You" and "Oh No It Isn't" jokes, the usual ghost scene, a panto horse, dame and everything else you'd expect but combined with a riotous queer story and adult jokes to create a very fun, filthy night out! The cast announced at the end of the show that they'll be back at the Charing Cross next year with their adult pantomime of Jack and The Beanstalk, and I can't wait to see what they do next!


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | reviewed by Mark (@markhobbs_) | Photography by Danny Kaan


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