Beastly show is a real beauty

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast - Credit: Archant

A new twist to a traditional tale can be found at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans when the Company of Ten puts on Beauty and the Beast as its Christmas show.

A retelling of the traditional fairy tale, it is written by award-winning young playwright Lucy Kirkwood with director Katie Mitchell.

The play was originally staged at the National Theatre and is a far cry from the Disney version. Mixing light and dark, it is narrated by two mischievous fairies and features an insect orchestra, a Thoughtsnatcher machine and a very helpful rabbit.

Director Angela Stone said: “Beauty and the Beast was actually written in 1740 as a novella for adults, and adapted for children in 1757.

“This play melds these two versions and draws on multiple theatrical genres to tell the story – so our two fairy-narrators are a vaudeville act, while the back story of our Beast is told using shadow play. There’s also a little magic, and even a song or two.

“The many skills of our creatives have been at full stretch for this production. The prop makers have a list of nearly 80 articles, from a giant strawberry to the planets, while our sound and lighting designers have been asked to produce some extraordinary effects.”

Angela added: “Like all the best fairy tales, the play is a little scary in places, so may not be suitable for those under six – parents know their little ones best, so we advise them to use their judgement – but we are confident that older children and grown-ups alike will be enchanted by this very special production.”

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Performances take place from next Friday, December 19, until Monday, December 22, and from December 27-30. Times vary and further details can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to