Photo: Danny Kaan

We have many fond memories of the queer pantos that used to play every festive season at the Above the Stag theatre in Vauxhall, which sadly closed its doors last year. There was no pantomime from the team behind those shows last Christmas, although some of the creatives put on the amusing Ghosted – a queer comedy take on A Christmas Carol – at the Other Palace last December. This year, the team are back under the guise of production company He’s Behind You! – a wonderfully suggestive, if unsubtle, moniker – at a new home, the Charing Cross Theatre.

It all feels reassuringly familiar – the rumble of trains overhead at Charing Cross reminiscent of those we used to hear in Vauxhall (fear not, they don’t detract from proceedings). For those who have seen a pantomime from this team before you’ll know what to expect: Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick is a modern, adult, queer take on the Sleeping Beauty many of us will have grown up with, with the jokes coming thick and fast. The prick in question, unsurprisingly, is somewhat naughtier than you may remember.

This show – once again written by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, with Andrew Beckett directing and Matthew Baldwin returning as the dame – feels like a warm, slightly over-familiar hug, full of predictable but wonderfully silly gags. We find ourselves in the Eastern European country of Slutvia – its residents referred to as Sluts, of course – where the ridiculously camp Prince Camembert  (Chris Lane) is plotting a way to snatch the crown from rightful heir Areola (Tom Mann) who is, amusingly, nicknamed Prince Arry.

What follows is two hours of relentless smut and silly puns – which makes for a terrifically entertaining evening. For the most part it’s not particularly big or clever, although there were a couple of punchlines that caught us off guard: a line about behaviour at a Taylor Swift concert is particularly well observed. There’s also a wonderfully unexpected musical theatre reference in the song ‘A Day at the Races’ which we thought was rather inspired.

We had a delightfully daft evening with Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick. It won’t be winning any awards for subtlety or nuance, but that’s probably not what people are looking for in a pantomime. This team has a winning formula – it wasn’t broken before, so they haven’t fixed it now. If you’ve seen one of their pantomimes before you’ll know exactly what to expect – it’s more of the same – but that’s perfectly fine with us.

GAY TIMES gives Sleeping Beauty Takes a Prick – 4/5

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