Once upon a time a there lived a princess from Liverpool, though this is no ordinary fairytale: instead, it is a gritty streetwise adaptation of the classic Sleeping Beauty.
Produced by French Company Cie Akselere, this is the tale of our modern-day princess born into a kingdom devastated by unemployment and drug use. Her dream is to live in a semi-detached house in suburbia.
The show, written and performed by the hugely talented artist and puppeteer Colette Garrigan and part of the Nottingham Puppet Festival, is a dark and personal interpretation.
As we enter the theatre at Lakeside, we become diners in a restaurant. On stage the table is set and our waitress (Garrigan) welcomes us. The story is semi autobiographical, especially of her early life, growing up one of seven children in 80's Bootle. Beginning the tale are comparisons and reality. A lot of women want the fairytale but the reality is that in modern day that they are under constant pressure to look good. 'Beauty is pain and pain is beauty': waxing, plucking and behind the plastic smile they're hungry. "We can't all wait in a glass coffin for our Prince".
Called Princess from birth, the main character's fate is sealed. The King of the castle is her father. who dies, and she is raised by her Grandmother, "not a real witch but bitter and grumpy", who casts a spell with a wand which she hits her with and foretells that she will be dependent on drugs and a delinquent by the age of 16.
With astounding precision in timing, the items on the table become Garrigan's playground as she breathes life into the story, bringing it to life, combining vivid story telling with amazing imagery, puppetry and shadow theatre. A toast rack becomes a bus then a shopping centre, forks become trees, the table cloth a body. Controlled by men who want her to be their Barbie Doll she succumbs to the Sleeping Beauties of drugs and alcohol: finally, the spindle is replaced by a syringe. Our heroine succumbs to heroin, a motorcycle accident later and she is awakened, not by a Prince, but a medical team.
What starts out as almost a one-woman comedy show become dark and somber. We all have our dreams, its universal but it's a harsh reminder of the reality that debt and and abundance of work until you die is sadly the reality of today's fairytale.
Sleeping Beauty was at Lakeside Arts Theatre on Thursday 22 March 2018.