Above The Stag’s much loved pantomime is back (oh yes it is), the venue itself may have closed, but the team have come north of the river to bring the exceptionally naughty Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick to the Charing Cross Theatre.
Directed by Andrew Beckett, we find ourselves in the small European country of Slutvia, this nation of Sluts is ruled by Queen Gertrude who has just given birth to an infant son. Prince Arry, short for Areola, just like the original Sleeping Beauty, will perish if the villainous Prince Camembert’s curse comes true. Unlike the original, Gertrude won’t have to throw out her sewing kit, it’s a very specific kind of prick that Arry will need to be wary of.
Luckily Arry has a Fairy Godmother (Jordan Stamatiadis) who manages to lessen the spell so that it results in sleep rather than death, so when our Prince is tricked into losing his virginity to an alien from outer space the result is one hundred years of slumber for him and his mother.
Waking up a century later, the pair find things have changed a lot, their fellow sluts have discovered iPhones and dick pics, but there’s still a villain to defeat (played with camp menace by Chris Lane) and romances to be had. Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper’s script is wonderfully inventive, keeping the essence of the Sleeping Beauty tale but giving it a very rude twist.
What makes Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick work is that the team have put together a proper pantomime, yes it might be for adults only but just look at David Shield’s impressive set, plus it has all the elements that make panto’s work; we’ve got a little audience interaction, the boo’s and the traditional call out’s and even the sing-along – it’s just that it’s a song about poppers.
There are only a handful of musical numbers, but unlike many panto’s they are all original numbers, written here by Jon Bradfield. The half a dozen songs all sound great, and get the audience tapping their toes and bopping along, ‘Meet Me in the Garden’ and ‘A Day at the Races’ are particularly enjoyable, with the latter lampooning a couple of well-known musicals.
Star of the show is undoubtedly Matthew Baldwin as Queen Gertrude, a spectacular pantomime Dame with a wicked tongue and a plenty of adlibs to delight the audience. Tom Mann’s Prince Arry lights up the stage while Myles Hart sparkles vocally as the alien Zupp. Nikki Biddington takes on the roles of both Myrtle and her descendent Maria, and helps to gee the audience along at key moments.
By not cutting any corners, and presenting a pantomime in the truest sense, the Above The Stag panto lives on and will be as popular as ever. Everything that the team have done makes Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick easily the best adult pantomime in London.