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Creation Theatre Company - Beauty and the Beast

27th November 2009 to 16th January 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

An enchanting drama

Beauty and the Beast, at the BMW Plant, Oxford, until January 16

Creation Theatre Company's Beauty and the Beast is a dark-edged Christmas show performed in the delightful Spiegeltent, located in the car park of the BMW Plant, Oxford. Husband-and-wife team of writer Daniel Bye and director Sarah Punshon have transformed the traditional fairy story into a heart-warming tale of loss and redemption.

Bella (Laura Sanchez) is the youngest of four children. Her two older sisters are neither ugly, nor mean; indeed all three girls support their single parent father (Paul Mundell) who is mourning the recent loss at sea of Bella's brother Tom. The children's father, a shipwright, designed the fateful ship, and cannot face his fellow citizens, who also lost relatives on board. Consequently, he has taken his family far away from the sophistication of the port city to live in a bleakly enchanted forest. In this gloomy backwater, the land is dominated by the mysterious presence of the Beast.

The plot speeds up when, in return for saving the father's life, one of his daughters has to live with the Beast. Bella volunteers, and in a cleverly devised scene, encounters Beast's servants who are all invisible to her, but visible to the audience. They move around the stage to the accompaniment of a glockenspiel, which creates an eerie melody. The Beast (John Dorney) is a boar-like creature with a magnificent head with large tasks and glowing eyes (designer, Rachael Canning). Only the true love of a girl who dances with him will restore him to his rightful position in life. Unfortunately, not only does Bella not dance, but she also displays egalitarian principles, and is hostile to his class heritage.

The audience, which included many BMW Mini employees, enjoyed a scene played out in Bavaria, complete with a comic song in German. The play could gain with some judicious cuts here and there but overall, this is a charming, well-performed ensemble piece that will delight audiences over the forthcoming holidays.