Snow White and the Happy Ever After Beauty Salon, Ovalhouse

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By Laura Kressly

I’d never considered hair salons to be the domain of estranged, murderous sisters, but this contemporary, actor-muso update of Snow White shows a darker underbelly of this normally jolly place. At the Happy Ever After salon, Trish has built a beauty empire that she rules with an iron fist, toxic pomades and razor sharp scissors. Punctuated by original vintage-style tunes, puppetry and engaging performances, this show is a sophisticated pantomime that’s diverse, accessible and fun.

Social class, privilege and obsession with appearance underpin this easily recognised, female-led story of good and evil. Koran Dohil is a pure and sweet Snow who sees the good in everyone despite having to leave her life-long home in the palace. She is well-contrasted by Anne Odeke as her auntie Trish, an initially subtle villain who takes the runaway Snow into her home after her father dies and her mother casts her out. These two confidently lead an ensemble of six who multi-role, sing, dance and play instruments. Rounded out by similarly 1950s set and costume with a touch of cabaret aesthetic, this is a slick show.

Mike Akers’ script shows care and time given to its development, unlike many of the more cookie cutter pantos out there. The characters have more depth than can be expected in pantomime, though the dramatic climax is rushed. There’s a heartwarming ending that ties up any loose ends, but the subplot involving Snow running away after Trish tries to have her killed isn’t given enough time – particularly as it involves some delightful mole puppets who give Snow a new home.

The chatty kids in the audience are engaged throughout, and the grownups are, too. It’s no surprise – this is a great take on a classic Christmas show and despite a few narrative shortcomings, it charms, entertains and gently addresses some of the ills in our world today.

Snow White and the Happy Ever After Beauty Salon runs through 30 December.

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