Sleeping Booty! at the Leicester Square
After a year of plumbing the subtext of countless heavy, introspective plays, Sleeping Booty! is just the sort of ridiculousness that audiences deserve as a festive treat. Wonderfully brash and filthy, it’s also chock-full of all the self-aware humour that characterises the best pantomimes. Stuart Saint has thrust so much innuendo and blatant naughtiness into the script that there’s no mistaking it for your average family show.
It’s not just its adult content that sets this apart from your typical panto. This one takes place in the Leicester Square Theatre’s lounge: a low-ceilinged, intimate space seating a mere 65, placing the audience within touching distance of the raucous, sequined action. Thanks in part to the show’s being supplemented with a steady beer supply from a bar that’s no more than a cupboard in the wall, the audience transforms from politely reserved to gleefully, loudly complicit by the end.
Sleeping Booty! bears little resemblance to its fairytale namesake beyond the pun names used. There’s a flimsy storyline that borrows from various Disney films, but you’ll be having too much fun to notice/care. Booty is a street-speaking, rap-spitting, feisty single lady (with a burning desire to be “pricked”) played by Alice Marshall with energy and sass. Leon Scott’s “tri-sexual” Prince Willie Wontie (“I’ll tri anything once”) is charmingly silly, while Paula Masterton’s Fairy Muff makes a lovably cheeky fairy godmother with show-stopping vocals. The baddie takes the form of The Evil Mangelina, played by extravagant and deliciously wicked drag queen Miss Dusty “O”.
Alexander Beck masterfully switches between all the minor characters, from overtly camp assistant Hans to a lycra-clad “green-screen man”. His number, based on The Jungle Book’s I Wanna Be Like You, lamenting his schizophrenic stage presence, is a highlight. Rachael Born is arguably the show-stealer as Miss Dusty O’s sidekick, Tit-Bit. With a face as pliant as rubber and a cartoon voice, her gift for comedy is marvellous to behold. Each and every cast member appears to be having a genuinely wonderful time.
Mentions of “Rumpel-foreskin” and “Little Red Riding Slut” sit alongside references to Nigel Farage and Max Clifford. Prince Willie Wontie prepares to romance a blow-up doll; a giant dildo flies towards Booty’s crotch, accompanied by prescribed panto chants by the audience. It’s a rich tapestry of silliness. Your cheeks will hurt from smiling come lights down.
Just one tip: don’t sit in the front row unless you’re happy to have your leg humped.
Sleeping Booty! is on at Leicester Square Theatre until 17th January 2014, for further information or to book visit here.