Beauty and the Beast fairfield halls

Review: Beauty and the Beast, Fairfield Halls

Review: Beauty and the Beast, Fairfield Halls

Dominika Fleszar reviews Beauty and the Beast at Fairfield Halls in Croydon: “a lot of silly fun.

Image Credit: Paul Clapp at Limelight Studios

Beauty and the Beast at Fairfield Halls in Croydon is a lot of silly fun. Staring Dick & Dom, children’s TV stars, who are pretty much made for panto: rude and entertaining, it makes for a pleasant December night at the theatre.

Dick & Dom revel in simple jokes and their spirit of feelgoodery is what pretty much makes the entire show. It’s so obvious that they play themselves that their characters don’t even have names. Almost all of their TV shows were referenced in one way or another, and Diddy TV got its own (quite random to be honest) segment. Their signature “Bogies” T-shirts are even sold as merch. Admittedly, for a panto – a peculiar one.

Derek Griffiths is lovely and charismatic but it can be felt that he doesn’t try too hard and lets Dick & Dom steal each and every scene. His entire shtick is based on a belief that he’s performing alongside Ant & Dec and no mention is made of his interesting and diverse career. But maybe that’s a plus – too many cooks etc. Overall, they’re a harmonious comedic trio, with Griffith’s downbeatedness serving as a counterpoint to the other two’s frenzy, exaggerated cheerfulness. Nic James as Benedict Bourbon (local version of Gaston) is an absolute delight with his big voice and even bigger stage presence. Alice Oberg has an angelic smile and makes a perfectly sweet Belle, whereas Danny Whitehead as Prince Pierre / The Beast is just as pleasant as he is bland.

Pantos nowadays don’t really care about the plot anyway, and neither does Beauty and the Beast – whatever happens in the story is not much more than an excuse for slapstick comedy and stand-up acts by Dick & Dom. There is not even a meagre attempt to justify Bella’s decision to stay with the Beast, no bewitched servants and Gaston, pardon, Bourbon, actually saves Belle’s life at one point. Jokes in turn feel rather rushed as if writers wanted to put as many of them as possible but forget to give any a chance to land. There’s not much audience interaction – not even a proper ghost gag – up until the last 15 minutes, which is a shame, and also makes the first act drags a little. In general, the show is very lowkey – there are only three (!) dancers and no traditional piece of stage magic at the end of act one.

Overall, it could’ve been easily improved, but it’s entertaining enough. The set is shiny and pretty, dancers are talented, cast all have great voices and the final Blues Brothers medley bursts with energy. Go if you’re local.