Review: Beauty and the Yeast (Infection)
He’s behind you!
A pantomime? In June? They must be mad, I told myself. Yet as I settled down into my seat at the Mumford Theatre, I started to realise that perhaps a summer pantomime was not so crazy after all…
Beauty and the Yeast tells the story of the well-meaning, if slightly overbearing medical student Belle, and her struggle to thaw the frozen heart of the rage-filled Beast. As they work together on the urology ward, Belle comes to see the Beast for who he truly is, and realises that there may be an underlying cause for his perpetual grumpiness. Add to the romance a pinch of medical dastardliness in the form of the scheming Gaston and his minions, LeFlu, Professor Whitty, and Climate Change, and you have yourself the makings of a fantastic pantomime.
A must for all good pantomimes are the show-stopping musical numbers, and Beauty and the Yeast was no exception. The orchestra opened the show with a Disney medley fit for fairy-tale royalty, and throughout the show kept the energy high on stage with medical covers to songs from not only Beauty and the Beast, but Mulan, Grease, and Matilda, all beautifully arranged by the talented musical director Christopher Cheng.
Not only was the music itself a resounding success, but the singing and choreography also shone brightly on stage, with particular highlights from Kalyan Mitra and Griffin Twemlow as Haemorrhagic Mike and Dita Ventouse respectively, and their scrubtastic, strip-teasing, surgical rendition of Pony. Particular mention must be made of Kalyan Mitra, as he stepped in at the last minute to cover the role of Lumiere for a fellow cast member who was ill. Mitra stormed the stage in a frenzy of 6 inch heels and stole the hearts of the audience as the loveable nurse-turned-medical equipment sidekick to the irritable and prickly Beast himself.
On all counts, the acting and singing were excellent, with tender and romantic performances from Izzy Sealey as Belle and George Nishimura as the Beast. A notable star of the show was the villain Gaston, played with despicable ease by James Sutton who commanded the stage with his excellent characterisation and strong musical performances, assisted by the ever-faithful LeFlu, played by Kieran Smith.
In addition to the wonderful music, acting, and dancing, the set and lighting were also the stars of the show. It was a welcome change to see a performance in a theatre other than the Corpus Playroom or the ADC, and the cast and crew perfectly utilised the space to create an endless labyrinth of hospital corridors and wards.
Filled with medical jokes and scientific humour (some of which were far beyond the realms of understanding for a mere humanities student like myself), Beauty and the Yeast was a resounding success. To those naysayers who eschew the idea of a pantomime in June, I say enter with an open mind and an eagerness to enjoy, and I promise you your mind might just be changed…
Beauty and the Yeast (Infection) is on at the Mumford Theatre at ARU from the 7th-11th of June. Tickets can be purchased here.
Featured image credits: Yuhui Zhou and Isabelle Thornton