5 December 2014 to 18 January 2015
Reviewed by Sallie Greenhalgh
We drove to Oxford on a busy Saturday before Christmas really excited about the afternoon that lay ahead (although as the driver I was a little nervous about the parking!). Parking was a breeze in the Westgate car park which is only 5 minutes walk from the theatre although it is not cheap. The many Park and Ride buses and train station are also easy travel options though and the theatre is surrounded by pubs, cafes and restaurants for before or after your performance.
Beauty and the Beast is written and directed by Peter Duncan; this is the ninth year he has written the Playhouse panto and he clearly has a talent for it. It is many years since I had been to a pantomime but nothing had really changed from my childhood memories. All the usual suspects were present – a fairy godmother, an incredibly well acted Dame by Leon Craig and lots of ‘oh no you don’t’, ‘oh yes we do’ and ‘he’s behind you’. Duncan took aspects from his recent participation in the BBC program ‘Tumble’ and there were several circus acts throughout the show. Beauty’s loyal dog, Tumbletoes, was a big hit with my 4 year old daughter who was mesmerised by her antics whenever she was on stage. The Beast was apparently ‘scary’ but as she is often prone to getting frightened at these things the fact that she did not require a cuddle meant he was not too fierce. As expected it was a family friendly show and the kids were actively encouraged to be involved throughout, from trying to find the witches to helping the fairy godmother with her spells and for 3 unsuspecting youngsters a chance to be in the limelight on stage. The panto was very up-to-date including ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams and ‘For the first time in forever’ from Frozen which brought a huge smile to many faces around the auditorium.
The staff at the Oxford Playhouse were incredibly helpful and the facilities are good. Booster seats were available for younger members of the audience and steps were provided by the sinks in the toilets – as a mum these little things make a lot of difference to a trip out. This was my second trip to the Playhouse and I will definitely go back again in the New Year for another treat.
Age guideline: 5+ Brave children under 5 are welcome, but may find some scenes loud or scary.
Tickets cost from £14.50 to £25.50.
Beauty and the Beast is at the Oxford Playhouse until 18 January 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01865 305305.
Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2LW | 01865 305305