Children’s Christmas show review: Sleeping Beauty

A short and sweet piece of family theatre with a knowing subversive edge

Lyric Theatre, Belfast

***

The delicacy and freshness of this prettily packaged show compensate for its diminutive scale. Derek O’Connor brings a cool, slightly subversive eye to his reworking of this most familiar of fairy tales, while retaining the cornerstones of a story that generations of children have come to know and love.

Choreographer Deborah Maguire makes her directing debut with a nicely judged production, which only occasionally feels a little stranded on the Lyric's big main stage. The action shifts between two time scales, carrying with it some neat contemporary references and engaging performances. Richard Ashton's ironic, affectionate king strives to protect the innocence of his spirited daughter Rose (Beccy Henderson), vainly shielding her from the curse placed by her jealous aunt Roselyn (a fabulously feline Jo Donnelly).

Exquisite shadow puppetry, a colourful heraldic set by Stuart Marshall, and Conor Linehan's intelligent songs provide the gift-wrapping for this short but sweet piece of family theatre.