Review by Charlie Balfour
Looking to get into the festive mood? Then look no further than The Star Inn in Guildford! Brought to you by the same creative team as D!CK (2020), Aladdin: One Rub Too Many (2021), and Throbbin’ Hood & his Little John (2022), The Guildford Fringe has brought a witty (and very smutty) adult pantomime to the stage for you to enjoy. There’s nothing that says ‘British childhood’ quite like going to a Christmas panto and so on arrival I felt a sense of festivity and nostalgia, but the dirty song lyrics and innuendo-filled script were quick to remind me that Sleeping Beauty Felt A Little Prick is far from child-like!
The pantomime tells a story of a naïve Princess A’Whora (Molly King) who is set to marry the insecure Prince Dhumphark (Finan McKinney) when a terrible curse is put on the princess by Ma-quiff-is-bent (Rosy Carr) - if she pricks her finger she will fall into a deep 100-year sleep. Playing a fairy godmother-esque role to the princess is Fairy Fantas-titz (Ciara-Alexandra Booker), and Dame Dolly D*ldo (David Scotland) acts as a comedic buffer between the characters and the audience, along with her…cast ‘member’.
Although only an hour long, writer James Chalmers has managed to pack in plenty of hilariously filthy jokes as well as creating very catchy lyric changes, including “Small, small w*lly” to the tune of “Ice, Ice Baby” in the “Under Pressure/Ice Ice Baby” mashup that I am now guaranteed to repeat in a completely inappropriate setting. Although there were some modern references throughout the show, I felt that there was room to include more and swap out some of the outdated political references for more topical ones that poke fun at our current social and political climate, particularly as it is an adult panto.
I found David Scotland charming in his cheeky dame role; always accompanied by Dame Dolly D*ldo’s namesake item and telling the audience punny one-liners. In true panto fashion, there was plenty of audience interaction from the dame and brilliant sharp-witted responses when things didn’t go quite to plan (sorry we forgot your catchphrase, Dolly)! Directors James Chalmers and Charlotte Wyschna have clearly played into their cast’s strengths; giving Rosy Carr a few cabaret club style acapella moments that show off her voice - a voice that you can hear again in her performances as cabaret alter ego ‘Rosy Cheeques’.
The lighting, designed by Chris Elcocks, serves to further enhance the extreme contrast of the characters. Green is a colour used throughout media in order to subconsciously remind the audience of mould, sickness, and death and thus associate this with a certain character. In keeping with this motif, whenever the witch Ma-quiff-is-bent enters for a villainous monologue, a striking green lighting illuminates the stage - amplifying her evil nature and helping to add to the traditional caricatured style of pantomime.
Although I enjoyed the 80s theme and song parodies from this era - with numbers such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!, “Into the Groove” by Madonna, and “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton - I was a bit confused on why we had time-travelled back through the 20th century and landed in the 1980s. I would understand narratively if we had started in the 1880s and gone forward 100 years, but if that was the case then it wasn’t very clear. Regardless of this, pantomimes are rarely for the plot and so I believe the show doesn’t have to make perfect sense for it to still be a great evening out.
All in all, if you want an hour packed full of laughs, 80s music, and fantastic singing then Sleeping Beauty Felt A Little Prick is the show for you…maybe just don’t bring the whole family!
Sleeping Beauty Felt A Little Prick plays at The Back Room of The Star Inn until 6th January 2024. Tickets available at https://guildfordfringe.com/events/sleeping-beauty-felt-a-little-prick-the-adult-panto