Tag Archives: Natalia Brown

Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick!


Charing Cross Theatre



“a fabulously silly night out of innuendo, double entendres and tongue twisting rhymes”

Pantomime is one of Britain’s most enduring Yuletide traditions. Its origins go back to 16th century Italian Commedia dell’Arte although, as with most Christmas traditions, it was much improved upon by the Victorians. You can see the century’s old traditions of gender swapping in the grand old dames and evidence of when performers weren’t allowed to speak in its physical comedy. He’s Behind You!, a new production company from the team behind pantos of yore at Above The Stag theatre, take panto to the next logical conclusion, turning the camp up to 11 with a no holds barred, totally gay panto in ‘Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick!’

Welcome to Slutvia! A lesser-known eastern European state, home to Prince Charming and Queen Gertrude who are welcoming their first born baby and now heir to the throne to the nation’s Sluts. This is all much to the dismay of Prince Camembert, Prince Charming’s sassy younger brother who is now out of the line of succession. Prince Camembert’s curse, that a prick will kill the young boy before he comes of age, is modified by the fairy godmother so that he will only croak if pricked from behind. Skip forward to days before the prince turns 21 and, of course, hilarity ensues.

It’s an uproarious production, satirically written by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper but largely carried by the comedic performances of Matthew Baldwin as the fabulous Queen Gertrude, whose difficulty for remembering names and catch phrase of ‘don’t correct me’ got funnier each time, and Chris Lane as the villainously bitchy Prince Camembert.

“Costumes by Sandy Lloyd and Robert Draper are impressively extravagant”

The whole cast are enthusiastically panto with surprising musical chops. Daisy the distracted Fairy Godmother, played by Jordan Stamatiadis, and Myrtle/Maria, played by Nikki Biddington, both have strong vocal performances – surpassing expectations for a panto of this scale. The real surprise vocally however, is Matthew Gent as Josef/Jonas whose sweet lovelorn duet with Nikki Biddington is revealing of his West End credentials.

The original music and lyrics by Jon Bradfield are a real highlight and the show could have benefitted from more. The opening number, ‘Welcome to Slutvia’, really sets the tone for what’s to come; an interlude in the song ‘At the Races’ sending up ‘Cats’ really tickled the musical buffs in the audience; and ‘Meet Me in the Garden’ at the end of the second act, sets up the most squirm inducing moment of the show.

Costumes by Sandy Lloyd and Robert Draper are impressively extravagant, especially for Queen Gertrude in their Art Deco glamour and, occasionally, ability to spray bodily fluids. David Shields’ set also seems to spare no expense with an inordinate number of scene changes. Where set and props are lower budget they are intentionally the butt of the joke, all in the spirit of panto.

If you’re looking for a fabulously silly night out of innuendo, double entendres and tongue twisting rhymes without kiddies throwing lightsabers about, this show will hit the spot.


Reviewed on 29th November 2023

by Amber Woodward

Photography by Danny Kaan



Previously reviewed at this venue:

Rebecca | ★★★★ | September 2023
George Takei’s Allegiance | ★★★★ | January 2023
From Here To Eternity | ★★★★ | November 2022
The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore | ★★★ | October 2022
Ride | ★★★★★ | August 2022
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike | ★★★ | November 2021
Pippin | ★★★★ | July 2021

Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick!

Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick!

Click here to see our Recommended Shows page



Ain’t Too Proud


Prince Edward Theatre

AIN’T TOO PROUD at the Prince Edward Theatre



“great songs, sensational dance but lacks emotional content”


Ain’t Too Proud, described as The Life and Times of The Temptations, directed by Tony-award winner Des McAnuff, and based on founder band member Otis Williams’ own memoir, is a whistle-stop journey through the history of the band from Otis’s discovery of music as a way off the Detroit streets, to becoming part of one of the most successful R&B groups of all time.

Otis tells us of his ambitions from the outset, “Singing is going to be my salvation” and the ethos of his group is that of all band members are brothers, “We all men, we all equal”. As the demanding life on the road, and the usual reliance on drink and drugs, takes its toll on the group, this maxim is severely tested. But, in essence, there isn’t a lot of life depicted on the journey and only a cursory look at the times. What there is, is some sensational song and dance routines.

The tour de force of this show is the outstanding Sifiso Mazibuko as Otis Williams. Stepping in and out of the song and dance line to narrate the story without missing a beat, he is close to ever-present throughout and if he begins to show signs of flagging by the finish, we can put it down to the aging of his character.

The opening half of the show though lacks spark. The songs are excellently performed and look amazing, but they are presented in small snatches, an accompaniment to the narrated story, which in itself does not excite. This begins to change with the arrival of the unpredictable David Ruffin (Tosh Wanogho-Maud) into the band and The Temptations’ first number one hit, My Girl. Some extra colour is provided with the inclusion of a three-song medley from The Supremes, described by Otis as The Temptations’ main rivals, which is one of the first act highlights. And as an example of how the songs reflect the narration, the group sings If You Don’t Know Me By Now just as Otis and his wife Josephine (Naomi Katiyo) split up.

As the group becomes more successful and looks to cross-over into the mainstream, a question is raised as to whether they are doing enough for fighting racial inequality. A clause in the band’s performing contract means their audience must not be racially segregated but the vital question is left open as monochrome projections show images of Detroit and Memphis ablaze, followed by the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Extra poignancy is found in the second half with the suicide of singer Paul Williams (Carl Cox) and images of the Vietnam conflict accompanied by a snatch of War (What is it Good For). The musical performance gets a lift too with longer song numbers, and a light show, particularly with the Reunion Tour and seven singers on stage rather than the usual five. The over-extended story of recording Papa Is A Rolling Stone becomes connected with Otis’s own story of missing his son growing up but any empathy is quickly swallowed up into the outstanding final number.

Ain’t Too Proud has great songs, sensational dance but lacks emotional content.



Reviewed on 19th April 2023

by Phillip Money


Photography by Johan Persson


Ain't too Proud  

Recent five star reviews:


The Net Kill | ★★★★★ | VAULT Festival 2023 | March 2023
After The Act | ★★★★★ | New Diorama Theatre | March 2023
Dance Of Death | ★★★★★ | The Coronet Theatre | March 2023
The Black Cat | ★★★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | March 2023
Britanick | ★★★★★ | Soho Theatre | February 2023
Cirque Berserk! | ★★★★★ | Riverside Studios | February 2023
Dance Me | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | February 2023
Gay Witch Sex Cult | ★★★★★ | VAULT Festival 2023 | February 2023
Hedda Gabler | ★★★★★ | Reading Rep Theatre | February 2023
The Lehman Trilogy | ★★★★★ | Gillian Lynne Theatre | February 2023


Click here to read all our latest reviews