Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sleeping Beauty

Having attended two pantomimes this season – after a gap of well over 30 years, the last I remember seeing were at the London Palladium: Dick Whiittington starring Tommy Steele and Aladdin with Cilla – I’m glad that this form of indigenous entertainment is still robustly alive. Cinderella at Hastings’ White Rock Theatre featured Jimmy Osmond as Buttons and was thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly lavish; Sleeping Beauty at the Anvil in Basingstoke was about half an hour too long but did star Wendy Craig and Abi Titmuss.

The latter panto made me muse on the appeal of the Sleeping Beauty tale to artists and the two English examples that immediately sprang to mind were the Briar Rose series by Edward Burne-Jones and The Maybe by Cornelia Parker (I own a lithograph of one of her Pornographic Drawings). Burne-Jones completed his series in 1890 after many years work – they are installed in the Music Room of Buscot Park, Faringdon, Oxfordshire and are truly a magical sight. For The Maybe in 1995, the actress Tilda Swinton slept in a large glass case at the centre of London’s Serpentine Gallery surrounded by items that had belonged to famous historical characters; if I recall correctly visitors were pretty subdued on my visit, - apparently every now and then someone would try to wake her up by shouting.

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