Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time, almost quite literally, as the famous story of the girl locked away in a tower by a ferocious and unforgiving beast is thought to be about 4,000 years old. After countless retellings, most recently a live-action remake by Disney, Fat Rascal Theatre is here to put their spin on this classic fairy-tale. In their version, with book and lyrics devised by Robyn Grant and Daniel Elliot, the genders are swapped. The beautiful and bookish Belle becomes Beau (Jamie Mawson), a boy with a touch of Oedipus complex and a deep (and borderline disturbing) love for Jane Austen, while the grizzly Beast (Grant) was once a Princess, rather than a Prince.
Grant has been at the head of an impressive roster of past productions, writing and starring in Buzz: A New Musical, about vibrators, and Vulvarine: A New Musical, which I don’t think I need to explain the premise of. Together with Elliot, the book and lyrics they have written for Beauty and the Beast are, as usual, so impressively funny, and have a witty and silly humour. Grant is particularly hilarious as Madame Oeuf, a townswoman in dire need of eggs, who intermittently wails about said need for eggs. The whole cast are brilliant, and after seeing most of them in Puss in Boots: An Alternative Panto a little while ago, I knew I was in for a treat. Allie Munn is absurd as Beau’s artistic mother Pauline, while also bringing much of the silliness as Le Fou Fou, who is the servant to Katie Wells’ Siobhan, a female Gavroche of the original story. Wells stomps around with a plum in her mouth, terrifyingly strong and obsessed with marrying Beau while he desperately tries to avoid her. Mawson is dashing and charming and all the things a good Prince should be as Beau, and his pretentiousness and penchant for journaling really is precious.
Miles ahead of most other fringe companies, Fat Rascal Theatre have yet again delivered a show with an astounding level of professionalism. I am in awe of the way the cast glide through such a fast-paced and richly funny show. Beauty and the Beast is a tightly run ship, and it makes for a highly enjoyable evening. Knee-slappingly funny, I can’t overstate how clever the gags are. Yet again, we can count on Fat Rascal for good old-fashioned panto-style laughs, and to revitalise traditional tales and flip them on their head.
Beauty and the Beast: A Musical Parody is playing at the King’s Head Theatre until 17 November. For more information and tickets, click here.