Frighteningly good stuff

Sleeping Beauty at Colchester Mercury until January 12.The dark thread of the famous fairy tale weaves its way through this panto but is never allowed to gain much leeway because with perfect timing the laughter comes flooding in to wash away each morsel of menace.

Sleeping Beauty at Colchester Mercury until January 12.

The dark thread of the famous fairy tale weaves its way through this panto but is never allowed to gain much leeway because with perfect timing the laughter comes flooding in to wash away each morsel of menace. And it happens in spite of one of the best 'baddies' we've seen for a long time.

Siani Owen is Fairy Carabosse - she's the one who puts the deathly spell on poor Princess Aurora - and she's so wonderfully wicked that the audience boos and hisses itself hoarse each time she floats out of her steaming lair, her black costume streaked with evil green light.

You sometimes get the feeling she's frightening the pants off the cast as well as the youngsters out front, and she can certainly pump out a song with the best of them, her delivery ranging from raunchy pop in Monster to a bit of surprisingly good operetta with Ever Fear.

The fact that she's on such fearsome form puts an extra load on the funny men but they, too, come up trumps. As the bossy, greedy Dame Henrietta Hoe, Tim Treslove once more earns a lot of laughs in false boobs, gaudy dresses and cleverly hideous hats - as well as gloriously corny jokes.

After a particularly groan-worthy one-liner, Oliver Pengelly, who plays Henrietta's son Wiven Hoe, says confidentially over the footlights: "There's a memorial service for that old gag at ten o'clock tomorrow morning."

Most Read

Pengelly, as the commoner love of Aurora's life and, hopefully, destined to save the day with a kiss, has a busy time getting the audience going, singing and hoofing with the very well-drilled chorus - all driven along by Graeme Du-Fresne's fine orchestra.

Ignatius Anthony and Gerard McDermott have a tasty time as Mack and Donald, Carabosse's criminally inept sidekicks who inevitably become part of her downfall. There's plenty of knockabout and they build up a good rapport with the full house out front, especially with their Jelly number.

Roger Delves-Broughton and Christine Absalom are the hapless, bewildered king and queen, Nichola Holmes plays the winsome Princess Aurora and there's a nicely-unsure good fairy from Charlie Morgan in a show that has many special features to catch the eye - not least a bunch of dancing skeletons.

David Henshall.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter