Shirley P. Olin

BWW Review: SLEEPING BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and PUSS IN MOON BOOTS, Battersea Arts Centre and On Demand

BWW Review: SLEEPING BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and PUSS IN MOON BOOTS, Battersea Arts Centre and On DemandThe Sleeping Trees are doing it all. After their phenomenal first online lockdown panto from last year, they’re back not only with an in-person takeover of Battersea Arts Centre, but with an incredible on-demand show too. Catering for all types of audiences and their needs, Sleeping Beauty and the Beast (at the theatre) and Puss in Moon Boots (in living rooms everywhere) couldn’t be more different, but they both share Sleeping Trees’ perfectly brilliant Christmas spirit. Unlikely heroes and evil villains lead to adventures like no others in their utterly unexpected and captivating mash-ups.

Known for their captivating and unpredictable concoctions, James Dunnell-Smith, Joshua Smith, and John Woodburn succeed in delivering other two brand-new stories with plenty of exciting twists and turns. Directed by Kerry Frampton and co-written by Ben Hales, Sleeping Beauty and the Beast is their first mystery-panto.

Just as the baddies of everyone’s beloved tales are about to graduate from the Goodie-versity – an institute for reformed villains – Headmaster Beast falls into a deep sleep and can’t be woken up. Belle and her side-kicks are faced with the conundrum of figuring out the perpetrator as soon as possible, so that Ofsted (one of their unforeseen villains) won’t close their school and Gooduation day can be saved.

At the same time, on our screens, another scoundrel has set out to ruin Christmas. Santa’s sleigh has been intercepted and all the presents have been stolen off to the moon. It’s the chance for Puss, Santa’s slightly neglected tenth pet, to save the day. Puss in Moon Boots has the same synergic energy of their previous digital piece, The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington, and of their other festive projects so far.

With spotless narrative and frankly genius plot-points, all the panto tropes are carefully woven to achieve a surprising climax with humour and heart. The company truly are a creative bunch. Their productions are amusing and thoroughly hilarious for all ages. Audiences are asked to join in and help, and from building makeshift spacecraft in Puss to pointing the cast towards clues in the auditorium, it all feels very relaxed and unpretentious.

Whether you get in your comfies or make an appearance to Battersea, grab a mince pie, and get ready to jump into the most festive of moods!

Sleeping Beauty and the Beast runs at Battersea Arts Centre until 30 December and Puss In Moon Boots is on demand now.

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