“Are you a princess?” asks a little girl as we go in. “No,” I reply, “I’m a theatre critic.” She looks disappointed, confused, worried. That’s the effect of fairy tales for you. Nothing quite lives up to being a wispy female waiting for a prince. Only in this case, it’s not a prince, it’s a beast.
While the story is familiar, the production, which transports events back to their French origins, isn’t. A live band and scene-stealing puppets – including a particularly cute pig and chorus of frogs – bring things to life through some great musical numbers.
The setting’s rich but what happens within it is somewhat muddled. After some great opening scenes where frogs’ legs are chopped and the pig is in full snaffling mode, the puppets and the story get a bit lost.
Very little time is spent creating a relationship between Beauty (or Bee, as she’s known) and the Beast, which makes it difficult to care what happens to them. But the company have an appealing and fun style of storytelling that, with a stronger script, could create something really impressive.