Claire, wicked lady in red

PUBLISHED: 15:54 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 17:24 16 August 2010

Sleeping Beauty - The Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Sleeping Beauty - The Churchill Theatre, Bromley

© Robert Workman - - 020 7385 5442 - 32 West Kensinton Mansions Beaumont Crescent London W14 9PF -

CLAIRE Sweeney is currently shaking off her wholesome TV image to portray the wicked fairy Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty at Bromley s

CLAIRE Sweeney is currently shaking off her wholesome TV image to portray the wicked fairy Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty at Bromley's Churchill Theatre, writes Mark Campbell.

In a pantomime written by, directed by and starring George Wood as the Prince, this is a fairly straightforward retelling of the classic story.

After the obligatory dancing villagers opening number, comedian Kev Orkian arrives on a space hopper as court jester Chester and turns back time for an extended flashback.

We see baby Beauty dropped into the hands of her guardian Nursie (Jeffrey Longmore) by an unseen stork, followed by her ill-fated christening in which Sweeney curses her to a century of slumber.

Despite overweening protection on the part of her parents, on her 18th birthday, Beauty receives a fatal prick which sends her to sleep for 100 years until a handsome prince can kiss her back to life. It's all very Freudian.

Sweeney excels as the archly camp villainess, taking her revenge on poor Beauty because of a simple cock-up on the invitations front.

Attired in a figure-hugging scarlet dress, she belts out Sweet Child of Mine and Mercy as if her life depends on it.

Lorna Want plays Beauty as a vacuous, smiling bimbo, perfect match for George Wood's dashing but one-dimensional Prince.

But then they're not the real stars of the piece.

That honour goes to Kev Orkian, a pint-sized comic who fills the stage with his larger-than-life personality.

From his first appearance diving headlong into the pit - ouch! - he quickly makes the show his own.

In this he is helped by Jeffrey Longmore. Choosing to play Nursie as just a bloke in a dress (but what dresses!), rather than as a 'proper' drag artiste, he brings a cheery, no-nonsense Northern charm to the role.

As the Lilac Fairy, Shelley Anne Rivers is the strongest singer of the night, closely followed by George Wood, whose resemblance to Tory leader David Cameron shouldn't count against him.

Disappointingly, the sets are very one-dimensional and in some cases rather tatty, and there are some notable pantomime omissions: no chase scene, no "Behind you!", no UV dance and only one thigh-slap (which isn't the same with a chap doing it anyway).

There are also some cheap-looking CGI effects and rather obscure musical numbers; but flaws aside, Sleeping Beauty is a jolly affair that will no doubt entertain the kids.

Sleeping Beauty runs until January 10 at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley. Tickets: 0844 871 7620.

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