Skip to main content

Beauty And The Beast

Edinburgh Playhouse
3 stars
It’s interesting that Disney’s stage version of their 1991 full-length cartoon (animated feature if you will) puts such store into the power of the imagination. Because, while bookworm heroine Belle may turn her spellbound horny beast captor on to lengthy afternoons in the library, onstage at least, the work’s pretty much all been done for us.

This lavish franchise has been doing the rounds for a good few years now, and its hi-tech mix of computerised scenery and flesh and blood recreations of its animated forbears, complete with extended song and dance routines, remain undoubtedly dazzling to many of the little princesses lapping it up in the stalls. Yet, for all the multi-dimensional appeal of its regally coloured purple hues, one can’t help but feel it should be put to bed awhile to freshen up.

Because, while there’s nothing inherently wrong here, too much of the merry dance between B and B looks done by rote. With a cast restricted by the one-dimensional impersonations they’re being asked to re-create, beyond the discipline required for such a display, this is unavoidable. There are, however, signs of life, not least from Ben Harlow, whose village hunk Gaston is gloriously akin more to Zoolander than Disney, while the slick ensemble run-through Be Our Guest looks somewhere between Busby Berkely and Alice In Wonderland.

As the lead gal, Ashley Oliver is sparky enough, though she does beg the question as to why all Disney heroines sound like they’ve been given elocution lessons by Julie Andrews. Despite such reservations, the flourishes and the occasional scarifying booms of the Beast’s amplified anger make this Beauty And The Beast infinitely preferable to a small-screen DVD.

The Herald, July 20th 2007

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…