SANDY — Sleeping Beauty’s Dream, written and directed by Javen Tanner and performed by The Sting and Honey Company, is a retelling of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale. This version is perhaps the most unique telling I’ve yet encountered beacuse Sleeping Beauty’s Dream is written in a style similar to Shakespeare’s plays. There are rhythmic speech patterns, iambic pentameter, sonnets, soliloquies, and rhyming couplets. The story merges Western European fairy tales with Norse mythology, and sprinkles in Irish and Greek mythology as well, along with Sycorax, the witch from The Tempest. The play tells two tales simultaneously, that of Aurora, a beautiful princess who pricks her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and falls into a cursed sleep, and Brynhildr, a Valkyrie from Norse mythology who is under a sleeping curse placed upon her by the god, Odin, whom she offended by not loving. Sleeping Beauty’s Dream is about the dream Aurora has while under Sycorax’s sleeping spell, but it is also a tale of love and sacrifices with strong female and male characters.
Aurora and Brynhildr were played by Zel Bromley, who did well at bringing beauty and spirit to both characters. I especially enjoyed her performance as Brynhildr because Bromley gave her a strong sisterly and warrior bond with the other Valkyrie. I loved the banter between her and Siegfried, played by Danny Egan, after Siegfried awakens her. Her strong, confident manner was balanced nicely with Siegfried’s delightfully cocky side. Their interactions brought in some humor to a production that leans towards formality. Early om the play there were moments when I felt the Brynhildr’s chemistry with Siegfried was lacking, but as I learned more about the valkyrie, I found the little bit of distance to be an appropriate choice for the character.
I also enjoyed the chemistry found among the witches Nyx (Kathryn Atwood), Ananke (Tamari Dunbar), and Hebe (Rain Tanner). There was strong sense of family between the three women as they worked together to protect Aurora from Sycorax (played by Susan Maurer Barry). Overall, there was good feeling of connection between all of the key characters and groupings of characters. This was a strong and well balanced cast.
A character that brought in some comedic relief was Robin, a clown, played by Javen Tanner. His scenes guaranteed laughter from the children sitting near me. A soft hearted, bubbling fool who works for Sycorax, Robin helped to keep things lively. My favorite character, however, was not comedic: Tithonos, played by Bijan J. Hosseini. At first Tithonos didn’t stand out as more than Aurora’s suitor, but as the play progressed, Tithonos developed further. When Aurora’s one hundred year sleep is at its end, Tithonos is an old man. He must make a difficult choice regards to his own love and happiness and what will truly make Aurora happy. The scene between him and Nyx is heart-wrenching and beautiful.
Although performed in a black box theatre, Javen Tanner staged this production in a proscenium style, with the audience seating only on the east side of the stage. He also created a set design that had the stage converted to a circular platform painted as white marble with black veins. On the stage was a marbled rectangular platform with a single rectangular step on the stage left and stage right sides. Brambles filled the hollow space below the circular stage and platform. Behind the rectangular platform, was a white marble statue holding a helmet and a tower-like vertical, also marbled and covered in brambles. The feel was that of a forgotten sanctuary. The perfect setting for someone who has been slumbering for one hundred years. There was an simple elegance to Javen Tanner’s set design.
This beauty and elegance was carried into the costume design by Mandi Titcomb. The costumes for this production helped to unit and also showcase the variety of mythology used in the script. The characters found only in Sleeping Beauty’s tale were dressed in classical Western European fairy tale costumes, while other characters had touches of Norse and Greek attire. The result was a thoroughly classical feel. Although costumes for this production were mainly whites, golds, and earth tones, splashes of colors were added through the costumes of Aurora, Brynhildr, and the witches Nyx, Sycorax, Ananke, and Hebe.
This production is said to be theatre for young audiences. Its content is not inappropriate for young audiences, but, I do feel that it is more interesting for preteens and teens. I love that it is filled with strong female characters, especially Brynhildr and the other valkyrie. There was a small audience the night I attended, which is shame because this is show worth seeing. I recommend The Sting and Honey’s production of Sleeping Beauty’s Dream to lovers of mythology, fairy tales, and classical style theatre.