Edinburgh Fringe 2010
This all-female sketch show attempts to tackle what life must be like for the Disney princesses, and Tinkerbell, with some clever song writing, excellent singing and larger-than-life performances. What if Sleeping Beauty woke up today with the ideals of yesteryear? What would Jasmine have to do if street-rat Aladdin was really handed charge of a Middle-Eastern state? How should Snow White manage her new-found staff?
Set in a universe where the Disney princesses occupy the same space and time, a time dancing between a long long time ago and present day, Princess Cabaret is a satire on the objectification of the first ladies of Disney’s classics, new and old. A jaded Tinkerbell, the "Eighth Princess" and jilted companion of Peter Pan oversees and comperes the songs and scenes from behind her keyboard as Belle (Beauty and The Beast), Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Jasmine (Aladdin), Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella and the latest addition to Disney’s princess list, Tiana (The Princess and The Frog) take to the stage.
Like with a lot of much less experienced sketch groups, Princess Cabaret never seemed to find a satisfactory way to end their
sketches with the same cleverness that the preceding scenes seemed to carry, failing to find punchlines in a lot of cases, simply
choosing to either have a character walk off or leave Tink’ to mop up. The same is true of the song parodies that occasionally occur
during the show. The original numbers succeeded in a level of wit not unfamiliar in the West End but the reworkings of Disney classics like "A Whole New World" (adjusted to "A Whole New Girl" to support a lesbian encounter between Jasmine and Cinders) felt like fillers in a show that fell a little short of the mark.
The 7-female cast were mostly excellent in their over-the-top portrayal of Disney’s elite and ably supported other characters as an array of the animations’ various fairies and male leads. They threw themselves in to the near slapstick characters with the required gusto and the satirical moments were hit with an unapologetic simplicity
The Sportsman, a shallow stage with a light rake in the seating was an unfortunate choice of space for what could have been a more open, stagey affair, and didn’t show off the cast’s strengths. this meant that the simple, bare set encouraged a feel that came across as inexperienced when held up to the length of time the young group have been touring this production. This is a wonderul show that is let down by simple staging decisions, deliberate or otherwise.
This really is a show with an awful lot of potential and this lively group of youngsters have a great future in the world of sketch if
they learn to tend to their sketches and identify the core of them a little more clearly. They lack the sharpness of the likes of Smack the Pony but with a little care to cut the Wheat from the Chaff they could be every bit as good.
This show is intelligent and witty but is in real need of a director, an outside eye to be ruthless about what stays in, to lend a hand in making sure a punchline is where their sketches are heading and to polish up the edges of an otherwise super show.
I had a lot of fun in this show and that is why I’m recommending it but the promise hinted at in the performances was not lived up to
in the presentation. The show was a little bit too Little Red Riding Hood when it needed a little more than a hint of Big Bad Wolf.