Writer – JP McCue
Director – Will Brenton
Choreographer – Khiley Williams
Musical Director – Thomas Arnold
Lighting Designer – Matt Ladkin
Sound Designer – Chris James
Everyone knows the best part of any panto is the Dame. Seizing that idea and running with it until their stiletto heels fall off, Corby Cube have enlisted not just one drag performer for their Christmas show, but three. Drag Race UK finalist Divina De Campo, drag legend Lola Lasagne and drag king Don One are currently treading the boards in their fabulous footwear and fashionable finery to tell the classic story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.
The familiar plot (a horned queen and a spinning wheel) is really just an excuse for a string of silly scenes, sketches and musical numbers, and it’s a fun and colourful couple of hours. De Campo plays villainess Carabosse, borrowing Angelina’s famous horny headpiece adorned with glitter, and is a fabulously intimidating vision in figure-hugging black spandex and leather, with heels to make your eyes water. She is a lively and energetic performer and sells the baddie role well. Lola Lasagne provides the dry sardonic wit and bounces brilliantly off De Campo, with the two of them holding a Reading Challenge to trade barbs (the first of numerous Drag Race references which fans will love). Ste Johnston also does well as jester Silly Billy, engaging with the audience (often breaking character) and creating a great energy. Recent MTA graduate, Gracie Peters makes for a fine Princess Beau.
All of the panto staples are here (a silly song, audience participation with dance moves, a comedy sketch involving gunge), with the show focusing more on comedy than having a more traditional mix of scenes. As with all pantomimes, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ works best when its talented leads go off-script, start ad-libbing (unless the remarks are really planned), try to make each other laugh and get the giggles. This is where De Campo and Lasagne’s true skills as comedians really shine. They are sharp, quick-witted, and very funny. De Campo has the showier role, but Lasagne more than holds her own, and as a fan of hers for many years (she once saved a dull night out in Birmingham and turned it into a real highlight), it’s wonderful to see her on a stage again. Consistently entertaining (she even sings), she is a real talent.
It must be said that the two lead performers are a lot stronger than some of the material, with a mixed bag of jokes which don’t always land. Although the cast of five work hard, the lack of a bigger ensemble does sometimes make the production feel quite small and sparse on the stage. Vocals are occasionally wobbly as well from some of the other cast members, making the show sometimes feel like watching your mates do karaoke rather than watching professionals on stage. But if you have a drink and sing along with them, you probably won’t care.
The show has its tongue so far in its cheek that it looks like it’s trying to lick its earlobe from inside its mouth, and for all its flaws, you can’t help but smile. It’s bright, loud, colourful, utterly silly, and it knows it. Not all theatre has to be Sondheim and Shakespeare, sometimes you just need a laugh, and thanks to its two dragtastic leads, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ definitely provides that.
‘Sleeping Beauty’ runs at the Corby Cube until 31st December 2021.