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Review: Sleeping Beauty and the Beast (Battersea Arts Centre)

Following on from last years Christmas spectacle, Goldilocks & the Three Musketeers, The Sleeping Trees have returned to Battersea Arts Centre this year with another nutty Christmas mashup.

We start the show at the group's annual slumber party, where pompous James has prepared a "masterpiece" of a script for them to perform, but disaster strikes when his pièce de résistance is misplaced. Much to his reluctance, the group is forced to improvise a narrative to keep them entertained for the evening.

This central narrative follows Belle and Beasts’ adventures as headmasters of The Goodie-versity - where baddies go to become good. Disaster rears its ugly head yet again when Beast quickly falls into a deep sleep and can’t be woken up. Over 90 minutes we follow a superabundance of characters as they try to figure out who sneakily slipped Beast the potion. Without him there can be no Gooduation ceremony and the Goodie-versity cannot maintain their (nearly) 100% record; oh and to make matters worse OFSTED are sniffing around threatening to close the institute, a joke which makes teachers in the room audibly wince in their seats.

This year the Sleeping Trees (Joshua Smith, James Dunell-Smith and John Woodburn) are joined by Jamal Franklin and Juliana Lisk; all of whom deserve plaudits. If there’s one thing you can expect from a Sleeping Trees show it’s a lot of characters, and under fierce direction by Kerry Frampton the cast effortlessly jump between a plethora of beloved and loathed fairytale characters with ease (alongside a few new ones thrown in for extra measure - Cornflake Collin being a particularly hilarious highlight).

As wholesome as it is hilarious, the latest offering from madcap theatre company Sleeping Trees delivers a bounteous blend of physical storytelling and pitch-perfect tunes, which are all admirably glued together with relentless energy and wit.

Whether you’re taking your kids, grandparents or grumpy neighbours, you’d be hard pressed to find a better festive show this year.

Sleeping Beauty and the Beast is at Battersea Arts Centre until 30 December 2021, all tickets Pay What You Can and socially distanced performances available at

Produced by: Alice Carter

Music Composed/ Sound Design by: Ben Hales

Lead Designer: Emily Bestow

Lighting Design by: Rachel E Cleary

Photo by The Other Richard

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