BPREVIEW: Beastly Belle @ Midlands Arts Centre 15-16.02.20

Words by Ed King / Pics by Andi Sapi

Running for four shows across two days, Beastly Belle comes to the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th February – kicking off Birmingham’s half term holiday weekend.

Presented by the Norwich Puppet Theatre, tickets for Beastly Belle range from £8.50 to £12.50 – covering a variety of options for adults, children (4yrs+) and babies.

With an 11am performance and a 2pm performance across the weekend, held in the MAC’s Foyle Studio, you can find out more information (and online ticket links) for Beastly Belle by visiting www.macbirmingham.co.uk/event/beauty-the-beast-beastly-belle

For those of a certain generation, the Midlands Arts Centre is somewhat synonymous with puppets – beautifully crafted characters that used to adorn both the walls and the stages of the old Cannon Hill Park complex. Now, to start a programme of productions and workshops for the Birmingham half term holiday, MAC is welcoming another ensemble of wood and string – as the story of Beastly Belle takes to the Foyle Studio on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th February.

With a narrative perfectly pitched for today’s Instagram and Love Island devotees, yet one ‘inspired by the iconic era of 1920s and 30s cinema’, Beastly Belle tells the story of the eponymous Belle – a wannabe starlet that is plucked from poverty and given all the ‘glitz and glamour’ of the silver screen.

But what coulda, would, shoulda been a wonderful tale of rags to riches soon turns sour, as our titular heroine become seduced by the adulation of aesthetics and becomes ‘ensnared by a world obsessed with good looks’. Sounds sadly all too familiar.

Told through puppet theatre, against a backdrop of film projections and an original score, Beastly Belle tackles an issue that is all too prevalent in the world of young people today – self-worth, and the misguided benchmarks of ‘beauty’ that can be so crudely used to define it.

The play’s promotional material also cites influences from the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast – so chances are this story ends with a newfound sense of self and an insightful epiphany. Which is no bad thing, for anyone at any age.

But told through puppet theatre, Beastly Belle will at least to give you a good hour of distraction (and silence) even if the message gets missed – which again to those of a certain generation, namely the one’s paying the ticket price, might not be a terrible consolation prize this half term.

And if you remember the MAC’s puppets of yore there may be some warm nostalgia as you stretch back and recall your younger days at the Cannon Hill Park complex… just remember it’s the weekend, and a school holiday, so that ice cream truck is also probably still there too.

Beastly Belle – official trailer (as used for performances at the Norwich Puppetry Theatre)

Beastly Belle comes to the Midlands Arts Centre on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th February – with shows at 11am and 2pm on both days. For more direct information and links to online ticket sales, visit www.macbirmingham.co.uk/event/beauty-the-beast-beastly-belle

For more from the Midlands Arts Centre, including further event listings** and online ticket sales, visit www.macbirmingham.co.uk

For more from the Norwich Puppet Theatre, visit www.puppettheatre.co.uk

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**If you like the look of this, why not check out some more family friendly shows at MAC:

Roald Dahl & The Imagination Seekers (21st and 22nd Feb), visit www.macbirmingham.co.uk/event/roald-dahl-the-imagination-seekers

Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday (4th to 6th Apr), visit www.macbirmingham.co.uk/event/sarah-ducks-big-top-birthday

Through Time (17th Apr), visit www.macbirmingham.co.uk/event/the-noise-next-door-through-time

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

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