REVIEW: From sleeping in the jungle to Sleeping Beauty


The Pavilion is the venue for Bournemouth’s 2018/19 pantomime Sleeping Beauty starring recently returned jungle celebrity Rita Simons as the evil Carabosse.

Playing to a packed house, the panto contained plenty of razzmatazz and jokes to keep the audience gagging for more. The story of Sleeping Beauty dates back to the 15th century before the printing press had even been invented but the story told at The Pavilion brought it bang up to date with references to Facebook, Instagram and Tinder (for those not in the know, Tinder is an online dating platform!) not to mention mobile phones and tablets.

The pantomime was faithful to the original storyline we all know and love but did have some minor deviations including references to the holdups on the Wessex Way/Spur Road. Possibly, many watching were wishing they knew a good deviation for the trip home!

The costumes were dazzling, the cast professional with plenty of chemistry between them and the set was simple but very effective with the use of projected imagery helping to transport the audience into all sorts of mystical delights including a fierce fire-breathing dragon. The fairies magically flew on and off stage adding to the children’s delight and wonder.

Great for kids

My 5 year old son was kept on the edge of his seat for most of the show and thought the bad fairy (Rita Simons) was very good – he wished the show had some other bad fairies too as he enjoyed the booing and hissing along with the rest of the audience. I too found myself revelling in the traditional pantomime banter.

The jokes came fast and furious – the ones I could hear were very funny and very topical but perhaps one of my few criticisms of the show was that the lines were delivered so fast and furiously, that it was difficult to hear some of the jokes. Some consequently fell on deaf ears much to the bemusement of the cast. I can only think that the cast were hurrying through the lines to cram all the content into the two and half hours. Perhaps two and half hours was a bit too long for a family show. There seemed to be a lot of tired, if not very happy little heads at the end of it.

I wasn’t totally sure it was a good thing to pick on Boscombe and Southbourne as undesirable suburbs of Bournemouth and I sensed a bit of uneasiness amongst some of the audience. I don’t live in those areas but I imagine that the jokes may have been a bit offensive to those residents. Perhaps it would have been best to have poked fun at our neighbours in Weymouth or Southampton – Bournemouth is the best place in the country to live, surely?

Panto at its best

The acting was first rate – a few lines were fluffed but covered over with much mirth. One notable faux pas was when Carabosse met Princess Briar Rose in the woodland. After saying their hellos, there was very long pregnant pause and some awkwardness until the the Princess said “so, aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing in the woods?” To which the evil Carabosse responded with relief “well yes, of course I was” then looked at the audience and quipped “well, what do you expect, I’ve only just got back from the jungle in Australia!”, Rita Simons of course referring to her recent appearance in ITV’s hit show ‘I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here”

The only thing missing was the “it’s behind you” and the ‘Oh yes it is” retorts from the audience who had little opportunity to shout the usual panto chants. All in all though, a feast of riotous family fun. Long live Panto!


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