Grimms' Sleeping Beauty directed by Peter Falkenberg for the Free Theatre in association with the Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of Canterbury at Old Queen's Theatre, October 14to 17 at 6pm and October 16 and 17 at 12pm. Running time 1 1/2 hours. Reviewed by Lindsay Clark.
Once upon a time there was a company of talented and daring storytellers who wanted to celebrate both the joy and menace of old, old tales as colourfully as they could to restore the dulled senses of folk made stodgy by too much television.
They planned for music and dancing, painting games and a great royal banquet so that the whole assembled company could laugh and sing and live out the story together. They set up their castle and banqueting hall down a narrow city lane so that the adventure could begin at the beginning.
Did it work? Judging by the enthusiasm of the audience yes. Cast as guests at the birthday and awakening of Briar Rose they were guided through an extravagantly detailed and outrageously grotesque feast and quest, to the musical accompaniment of tireless minstrels.
The discipline and teamwork involved was considerable as each of the benevolent fairies brought the traditional gifts of beauty, wisdom, riches, modesty, good nature and virtue in a most Unexpected Sequence of Pass the Parcel. This business was impeccably juggled with entertaining food of the snack variety until the intervention of the last fairy, gifting reason, set a whole new context for the guests to explore.
With limited places available at the banquet table this refreshing experience will be missed by many. But be warned. It is not a production for the fainthearted (guests will need to leave their preconceptions about fairy tales, banquets and frogs in the lane, or settle for Coronation Street.