Beauty & The Beast, Theatre Review. The Black-E, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Cast: Tori Hargreaves, Nick Langmead, Jamie Greer, Adam McCoy, Helen Carter, Alan Stocks, Ciaran Kellgren, Brandon Incles, Libby Fairhurst, Michael Hall, Shannon McFadden.

There is a monster in all of us, a beast to whom only the love of one person can fight hard enough to quell and set on a course to love and to being the person we wish to be seen as by the rest of the world. To find such a person is sometimes all we can hope for, it is the very essence of our time, to have, to hold, to rip off the mask we have put to keep the hurt at bay.

To find love of such a nature is rare, sometimes the mask stays in place, sometimes, and with the help of a sprinkling of magic and persistence by friends who have your best interests at heart, the beast can become loveable, become a person to whom the world respects and actually wants to be around.

Beauty & The Beast is a classic story, one that has stood the test of time and all because it has the element of humanity to which we all aspire too, that love is for all and it is a story that sees beyond the fragilities of the face on the outside and instead focuses on what is underneath, the compassion, the tenderness and the heart and in all of those it makes a wonderful Christmas pantomime in which the children and their families can fall for this festive season.

The Black-E shudders under the perpetual bad mood a once handsome, but arrogant, unpleasant and horrid prince, trapped in its grand room by a fairy who wants the disagreeable royal to mend his ways before time keeps him ensnared forever in the body she has placed him. All fur, a temper to match that of a lion with a thorn in its paw, his best friends rapidly turning into household objects, only the love of Belle Vale can help the prince and set Christmas in Liverpool to rights.

Written by Jessica Lea, the tale is one that catches the eye and is resplendent with its costumes, great cast and setting, the Black-E playing a perfect host to Drops of Light Productions, it is also a family show that does offer a good time to those who make their way to Chinese Quarter, no matter the weather.

With Alan Stocks in tremendous jovial form, Jamie Greer as the wonderful Dame Dolly, Helen Carter as Fairy Rose Lane once again proving just how adept she is on stage and the rest of the cast, including the smashing Tori Hargreaves as the marvellous Belle Vale, visitors to the Black-E will be spellbound and enchanted as the mix of music and comedy, tale of morals and of friendship are performed to great effect.

A great show, festive, true to form and a delight to behold; Drops of Light have captivated with their first pantomime production.

Ian D. Hall