Dukes Theatre, Beauty and the Beast

Review in Issue 20-4 | Winter 2008

Walking into Williamson Park, Lancaster on a beautiful summer’s evening, it’s the perfect setting for a promenade performance.

Using the breathtaking Victorian vistas, woodlands and dells as the natural scenery for the retelling of this classic tale, director Joe Sumison brings Beauty and the Beast back to its roots with a dark adaptation by Kevin Dyer.

This is no Disney cartoon but earthy and very beasty, with a strong cast, adept at playing multiple roles. The witty, nasty sisters Ruby and Grace persuade the audience to pull them uphill in carts to the magnificent Ashton Memorial, the scene for the Prince’s / Beast’s party, where he cruelly ridicules Beauty’s father.

We then follow Beauty as she’s tricked into entering the woods to save her father’s life. The scenes in the wooded dell worked marvellously as the sun set, and the overhead birdcage lanterns entwined with giant silk roses lit up the night. The cast as the animalistic assistants in the Beast’s hovel developed interesting and effective vocal soundscapes accompanied by a piano perched high up in the trees. They comfort Beauty by telling her own story from an imaginary book, as a means for time passing, which worked wonderfully.

Beast and Beauty dance and it’s a beautiful moment when she unlocks his heart. The final scene of her kiss bringing the Prince back from death, was a little too underplayed for my liking, and could have been further developed with a bit more passion. But this is an imaginative retelling with some original theatrical delights and quality performances.

Presenting Artists
Site

Williamson Park

Date Seen
  1. Jul 2008

This article in the magazine

Issue 20-4
p. 37