Disenchanted has been making the rounds stateside for some time now. Stage Avenue are bringing the show to the Fringe for its Scottish premiere, and they deliver an incredibly fun poke at fairy tale tradition.
Beneath all of the tongue-in-cheek character work and interplay is a serious point about how women are usually treated in folklore. It is amusing, refreshing and always necessary to see such misogynistic portrayals demolished by an all-female cast. Having such a ball doing so lets the audience join in their tearing-down of outdated tropes. Doing justice to legendary figures is what Disenchanted is all about, and delivers its empowering message with swagger to spare.
One or two elements can rub audience members the wrong way. The way Belle is shown as damaged from her beastly ordeals can draw laughs. Regardless, you can’t help but think that the disability element could have been thought out with a bit more sympathy, rather than as a basis for the odd joke. Mulan too may feel misconstrued depending how you understand the story behind her legend and the message that she carries. For every potential hiccup however, other aspects fare much better. The relationships between the leading trio of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the dominating Snow White is always entertaining. Best of all perhaps is their beer-swigging image of Ariel, cursed with two legs and using her recently reclaimed voice in the name of bemoaning past decisions. It’s a pitch-perfect image that easily has its intended effect.
Too many singing voices are almost lost underneath the booming music, but you can still appreciate the sharp writing that makes up each musical number. With the odd ingenious lyric and a relevance that (sadly) will not lessen anytime soon, Disenchanted is cursed with the odd poisoned apple, but for enough of the audience it will not make this mischievous romp any less sweet.