Beauty and the Beast


The Helix, Dublin ****

Merryville is just your average village, where women dance around, men mess around and family feuds endure. There’s the baddie, Gaston (Eoin Cannon), whose singing compensates for his villainous vanity; his endearing twin brother, Gastoff (Aidan Mannion), and Bo (Colin Hughes), who is friends with everyone, especially our heroine, Belle (Lauren Nevin), and her auntie Lola (John Lovett). It’s some time before we meet the Beast (Kyle Kennedy), condemned by Gaston to his castle, but the excellent dancing and David Hayes’s top-class musical direction, with each character’s character summed up in song, keep things moving.

The script, by Karl Harpur and Claire Tighe, is well pitched. “I was going to become a comedian,” says Bo. “But people just laughed at me.”

There are plenty of jokes that go over the kids’ heads: a Fifty Shades of Grey reference; lots of Craig Doyle snippets (“Imagine you’re happy with your package”); some snippy references to Linda Martin; and a jealous exchange woven with wronged-lover cliches. The couple who run the Beast’s castle, Babble and Sizzle, and their hapless assistant, Notwell (he’s from Barcelona; do keep up), turn it into a tower of chaos.

Gastoff and Bo form an imaginary-pony club, The Trots, and that theme runs through the story. To ramp up the camp there’s the fabulous Franc (Adam Lynch), who is a wedding planner to the stars (“and Brian Ormond”) and who, armed with a feather duster, is the leader of the disgruntled mob that assembles to spring Belle from the Beast’s castle. (Gaston is sure he ordered an angry mob online and isn’t exactly gruntled at what he gets.)

And so, when Beauty and the Beast voice their feelings, the awwwdience anticipates wedding belles and the ensuing ceremony is styled in lavish medieval materials. “What would Craig Doyle do?” asks Lola. He might very well bring his kids to the Helix.

Until January 13th
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