'Beauty and the Beast' – Norwich Puppet Theatre
Before it began, I was already aware this wasn't going to be like the Disney 'Beauty and the Beast' we all grew up with. The moral behind the classic tale – that you shouldn't judge someone on the way they look (even if they look like a hideously terrifying Beast!) – is definitely a message that remains relevant today. Norwich Puppet Theatre’s production takes this notion one step further, showing us how out of control a situation can become when vanity, fame and fortune become paramount.
The characters are witty, realistic and a little bit cheeky at the same time, with plenty of sideways glances and humorous additions from the actors in accompaniment. Their movement is exquisite and life-like, with an attention to detail that I can only congratulate and marvel at. The puppets are made from wood, and are traditional and modest to look at, but their fiery personalities and the adept puppeteering bring them well and truly to life.
The set design requires significant praise for its depth, ingenuity and creative flare. The story begins in the desert, with the stage covered in a dull coloured cloth. As the characters begin to journey into the unknown they venture over and under, backwards and forwards until they find the home of the Beast. The set change from desert to ballroom is done with poise and fluidity; the simultaneous motions of the floor tiles being exposed and the fireplace appearing in the background is simply brilliant. This seemingly effortless ritual was consistent throughout as the actors chopped, changed and manoeuvred through different worlds and settings.
The combination of fantastic musical accompaniment, seamless set changes, clever lighting tricks and high quality stage presence made this family friendly and magical presentation of 'Beauty and the Beast' unforgettable.
'Beauty and the Beast'
Norwich Puppet Theatre