Girl meets prince, they marry and live happily ever after - we all know the story. But life has a way of not quite sticking to the plot, and that is certainly true of this show. A subversive and pleasing look at an old classic, Waking Beauty delivers a most satisfying love story.
The tale is at first familiar: we meet a poor woman, once a farmer's child, left to bring her own daughter up alone. Her daughter grows up to be graceful, beautiful, and ready to dance for the hand of the prince at the ball. Sure enough, he falls madly in love with her... but when their wedding night ends with the princess trapped in a waking nightmare, suspicion falls on a strange traveller who had come to the women's home.
This enthralling piece looks at what happens when you deny your own desires to fulfil others' dreams; when society will not accept who you are, and its effect on your mental health. I loved the use of movement to reflect the princess's mental state, graceful and fluid or heavy and stumbling. It approached some very real topics which Disney-fied stories so rarely look at: what it means to love someone, what regret can do to you, and what happens when society has expectations which you cannot fulfil.
If I had any complaint, it would be the direction was occasionally a little awkward, and not quite attuned to the venue. Entrances and exits sometimes involved a long and undramatic walk, and the positioning of the curtained doorway is curious; its effect is spoiled as cast members go through it, and then very visibly walk off the stage.
But these are minor blemishes. It may be because of my sympathy with the subject matter and the topics it explores, but I found this show truly exhilarating. It is a beautiful story, told with believable acting and a truly resonant message; an old tale for modern times.