Review: Sleeping Beauty, Hull Truck

Sleeping Beauty at Hull Truck Theatre.
Sleeping Beauty at Hull Truck Theatre.
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Hull Truck has long been a fertile cradle of invention and innovation, and this year’s seasonal offering does nothing to disappoint.

Here’s a totally new interpretation of the Beauty legend that is about as far from traditional pantomime as you could possible wish to travel, but which, in its own quirky and colourful way, retains a lot of the original elements and which has the genuine fizz of spontaneity.

Mike Kenny’s always deft, frequently gloriously daft (and at one point dangerously dark) story reminds us that there are very real forces in our own world – for good, and for bad. And, he believes, one of the influences that guides so many of us, is our family background, and in particular that of our grandparents. Very much so, he theorises, in the shape of the beloved Nanna.

Kenny suggests that Beauty, in the person of Princess Briar Rose, is surrounded by her own Nannas, and that they are all there to shape her, form her, give her admirable qualities. Which is what Nannas do. All, that is, except one. Bad Nanna Sandra, who has not been invited to the infant’s first birthday party, turns up anyway, and causes havoc. Nicholas Goode lands this role, and plays it with undisguised relish, strutting around with hilariously cocksure malevolence.

In the second act of this impeccably timed yarn. Jamieson morphs into the Prince selected to wake Beauty from her slumbers. The twists come thick and fast – does our Prince really want to kiss awake a young woman with whom he hasn’t had an introduction? Does Beauty want to get married to a strange young man that she has only just met – and in her bedroom? All resolves itself, of course, but Kenny’s sure storytelling shines through in some superlative performances and music-making.

So yes, everyone needs a Nanna – and everyone needs to beat a path to the door of Hull Truck, over the next few weeks. A real family treat.

Phil Penfold

To January 9.