Emily McAlpine as Goody with the ensemble
Photo by Helen Murray

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… and here in the Cheap Seats nothing says Christmas quite like a trip to Chichester Festival Theatre to see their youth company put on a classic show. This year they are treating us to Sleeping Beauty and if our last five visits are anything to go by it will be one of the highlights of 2018!

Izzy Richardson and Joe Russell.
Photo byHelen Murray

This take on the tale, written by Rufus Norris (yes, the bloke at the National Theatre…) has a bit of a twist to it and isn’t just a tale of some chap turning up to plant a kiss on a sleeping lady to live happily ever after. It’s an interesting direction to take and largely it works.
That’s in no small part due to the consistently excellent ensemble of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre who engage with their characters more completely than many of the professionals who grace the same stage and sing beautifully too!
Our guide through the story is Goody, a lapsed fairy who I both the cause and salvation of Beauty’s woes. Emily McAlpine is a thoroughly charming presence who makes the stage her own the moment she enters, with Francesca McBride and Katie Utting equally delightful as the younger and older incarnations Goody too.

Members of the company.
Photo by Helen Murray

Elsewhere Joe Russell is a vain but well-meaning prince and Izzy Richardson makes for a particularly sweet and endearing Beauty. Megan Bewley takes her Ogress from caricature to a well-rounded character and George Waller shows his comedy chops as the Prince of Questions.
The set and costumes threaten to steal the show by themselves. Simon Higlett’s world of hanging vines, bridges and a clever picture frame perfectly captures the fairy tale feel and Ryan Dawson Laight’s costumes are packed with hidden details. The woodland characters are a particular delight, hinting at various animals without ever forcing the audience to decide who they might be.
There’s nothing here not to like and if you’re in the mood for a festive treat that fits the mood perfectly then head along to Chichester and take in a show for yourself!

 

 

Until December 30. For more information or to book tickets head to cft.org.uk