Sleeping Beauty, Bristol Old Vic

Sleeping-Beauty---Bristol-Old-Vic---Ensemble---LOW-RES---Photography-by-Steve-TannerBRISTOL is currently on the crest of an artistic wave, and native director Sally Cookson is high on that spumy horizon, with smash hit productions of Jane Eyre and Hetty Feather doing the rounds, recent memories of 101 Dalmatians at the Tobacco Factory last Christmas and now Sleeping Beauty, the 2015-16 show at Bristol Old Vic.

The theatre celebrates its 250th anniversary next year, and what better overture than this wonderful Christmas show, an inventive and involving re-working of the favourite fairy story.

Sleeping-Beauty---Bristol-Old-Vic---Stu-Goodwin-(Sylvia),-Joe-Hall-(King-Derek)-and-Lucy-Tuck-(Queen-Vanessa)---LOW-RES---Photography-by-Steve-TannerWe all know how mothers (and dads) dote on their firstborn son, so it’s no surprise that King Derek and Queen Vanessa adore their long-awaited baby boy, Percy. Not for him the coddled life of the palace, but a first year spent walking, climbing and adventuring in the kingdom, all three royals dressed in best Harris tweeds.

Sleeping-Beauty---Bristol-Old-Vic---LOW-RES---Photography-by-Steve-TannerBut just as they are getting used to having fun together, malice strikes.

For his first birthday there’s a party, and all Percy’s aunts are asked. Now as well as being fairies, they have LIVES. One’s a wrestler, one a farmer, one a jam-maker …  etc. They are very close, these sisters in fairydom, but there is one who’s a bit of an outsider. Sylvia is the one always lording it over the others, wearing glitzy clothes while they wear serviceable pinnies, having her hair cut at the best salons … you know the type.

Sadly, Sylvia’s invitation to the party doesn’t arrive, and, furious, she plots the downfall of the beloved prince. When he’s 16 he  pricks his finger (on a 16 Today badge) and falls into a deep sleep, to be awakened only by true love’s kiss.

Sleeping-Beauty---Bristol-Old-Vic---Joe-Hall-(King-Derek)-and-Lucy-Tuck-(Queen-Vanessa)---LOW-RES---Photography-by-Steve-TannerTrue love, here, comes in the form of the heartbroken Deilen, an orphaned girl travelling the world seeking the solution to the riddle left her by her late lamented grandmother.

You need to got to Bristol Old Vic between now and Sunday 17th January to find out what happens. There you will meet princes, fairies, sheep (with a shepherdess worth the price of the ticket and the travel) and real enchantment.

There’s also a very strange trio of singer-musicians in plus-fours to delight your entrance to the auditorium, and to accompany the songs in the show.

The eight actors, playing multiple roles, bring this wonderfully funny, poignant, exciting and colourful story to audiences of all ages.

The usual problem for Sleeping Beauty is a first half that goes on, and a second that has to be padded out to fill the time.  Sally Cookson and her cast, who devised this together, avoid that imbalance with charm, and it should be another big hit for Bristol.


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