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Beauty and the Beast at Belgrade Theatre - Review

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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Panto is packed full of puns and gags
Coventry's panto was sorely missed last year and delighted audiences are welcoming it back to the Belgrade Theatre. Created by Iain Lauchlan, the pantomime is one of the city's institutions, indeed Lauchlan has been at the forefront of the show for more than 20 years so that youngsters who sat in the theatre two decades ago are now bringing their own children.

And the audiences know what to expect. Lauchlan is writer, director and dame - and panto runs through his blood. The show has all the expected ingredients, all the usual gags and the dame is well the dame.

Beauty and the Beast pantomime at Belgrade Theatre Coventry
Beauty and the Beast

This year it is Beauty and the Beast and, as Dame Dolly Mixture, Lauchlan's costumes are fantastic one moment a bag of Dolly Mixtures, another a Liquorice Allsort and even a Pick and Mix counter imaginative, colourful and with excellent detail. In the role, Lauchlan is clearly delighted to be back on stage, revelling in silly puns, the odd nod and a wink and plenty of mayhem.

Also, a panto stalwart with ten years of shows now notched up is Craig Hollingsworth in the role of comedy sidekick Silly Billy. He is daft but loveable, chatting to the audience, enrolling them in a bit of help at various points and constantly being the butt of the jokes.

There are lively performances across the board. Peter Watts is hugely caricatured as the macho Maurice but he is a loveable rogue, more of a dafty than a real baddy. Sion Lloyd, well hidden behind his Beast costume, is a roaring menace but with a heart hidden deep inside that woolly coat.

Beauty and the Beast pantomime at Belgrade Theatre Coventry
It's panto season at Coventry Belgrade

Ruby Eva is the charming Beauty, whose love for her father means she will put her own happiness at risk, Miriam Grace Edwards is a fun-filled companion to Maurice and Katy Anna Southgate is a vampish Enchantress who constantly tries to remind the Beast to improve his manners.

Designed by Mark Walters and created by Belgrade Production Services, the sets are lavish giant animal heads adorn the gates to the Beast's castle while the village is as bright and colourful as a packet of dolly mixtures.

As always it is all served up with bucket-loads of silliness which is precisely what the audiences come for. Coventry is one of the first Christmas shows to open and runs until early January and, if this panto is an example of what we can expect across the board during the festive season, it is going to be a fun few weeks.
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Why? A stage full of silliness
When: Until 8 January 2022
Phone: 024 7655 3055
Where: Belgrade Theatre Coventry
Cost: From 13.50
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