Beauty And The Beast
Touring 2002 (reviewed in Lyric Theatre Hammersmith)
Italy's Teatro Kismet presents the familiar fairy tale in an athletic and witty hour that both adults and children can enjoy.
Written and directed by the company's artistic leader Teresa Ludovico, who also (to our curtain call surprise) provides the amplified growls of the Beast, the production draws imaginatively on styles from circus clowning to acrobatics and dance.
The play is
performed in English, with the Italian accents and brief lapses into
gibberish-like Italian merely adding to the exotic quality. Despite his
growls, the Beast is never too scary, looking a bit like a man with a
teddy bear head, and Simone Desiato plays him as an attractively
athletic figure, swinging from hammocks and rope ladders so that he
rarely touches the floor.
In appropriate counterpoint, Nunzia Antonino's Beauty evokes both grace and the energy of youth in her dance-like movements.
My eight-year-old companion particularly liked the broadly-mugging comic ugly sisters, the magical dancing shoes, and the moment when the Beast, in his agony, swung out over the heads of the audience, but she also responded to the sweet implications of Beauty's always carrying the rose that had brought them together.
To those high points I would add the way Beast wins Beauty's heart by teaching her the joys of eating with childlike messy abandon, and the brief flash of disappointment on her face when she first sees the handsome prince in his place. Altogether, a thoroughly charming hour that actually felt too short.
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Review - Beauty and the Beast - Teatro Kismet 2002