Beauty And The Beast -- Square Chapel Arts Centre

THE first ever family Christmas show uniting the Halifax arts centre with the Beacon Actors Company was more Beast than Beauty.

It was clear from the reaction of many in the audience, they were under the impression this would be a faithful reproduction of the Disney movie.

It most certainly wasn’t.

This was a far darker interpretation of the traditional fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.

I’d also argue it wasn’t appropriate viewing for anyone under the age of eight. Hence our three-year-old loved it!

Having the ‘thoughtsnatcher’ planted firmly on her head at one point in proceedings, confirming her parents’ long-held, and unbiased view she is indeed a young genius, also helped win her over.

Despite a subsequent bout of chicken pox, she has been prowling our house as the Beast for the past week, frightening the hell out of any unsuspecting relatives trying to catch 40 winks after over-indulging on the festive fare.

A minimal set, basic costumes and spooky shadow theatre segments all added to the intense atmosphere.

For a first stab at a Christmas show, the partnership between the arts centre and the Beacon Actors Company – made up of young professional actors aged 18 to 24 – was an impressive one.

Jennifer Birch as Beauty and James Demaine, as Beast, were the blooming roses in this production. That’s not to say there were any thorns, as such, but the often protracted dialogue of the narrators, with its incessant sexist ‘banter’, could have done with some festive trimming.

Not your classic seasonal show by any shot, but hugely entertaining nonetheless.