Tonight Rebecca and I went to see Dundee Rep’s production of Sleeping Beauty by Charles Way. Way’s version of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty really is my favourite — the original script is set in medieval Wales, and is as much a story about Prince Owain as it is about Briar Rose. A perfect princess cursed by an evil witch, a useless prince who dances his way past fairies, out-riddles the Spider King, and fights the witch herself, there is humour and seriousness and a faithfulness to the spirit of Fairy that I really love.
Some of you will know that I was the dramaturg for OBU’s production of Sleeping Beauty a few years ago. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons throughout the play. I liked how Dundee Rep altered the script slightly to reflect Scottish folklore instead of Welsh: instead of the witch sisters being Modron and Branwen, they were Haliach* and Brigid. The fairies, instead of the Welsh Tylwyth Teg, were the Sidhe (and were quite the opposite of the fair Twlwyth Teg, for the Sidhe were very creepy!). The costuming for Briar Rose was done similarly to how OBU did it: each time when the audience sees her she is older, having added a piece of clothing, resulting in a blooming rose. OBU did this with green and red, and Dundee Rep did this with yellow and gold. I quite like the effect of both. The music for Dundee Rep was also very nice, with harp and song, and the dancing fun to watch.
But of course, of course, I am biased. I prefer OBU’s production: the set and costumes more beautiful, the sword choreography better planned, and the Spider King scariest of all. Just look:
But that in no way means I did not enjoy Dundee Rep’s production. It was lovely to see a play and a story I know so well done in an interesting and different way. Sleeping Beauty was the spark that led to me writing The Faerie King, and The Knight of the Rose after. I am very pleased indeed to have had the chance to see the play again. And it shows how one can still find something new each time one sees a play: I hadn’t noticed before that Owain was his father’s seventh son, which explains why he could also see Gryff, when no one else but Briar Rose could. Seventh children have the Second Sight, meaning they can see fairy creatures and the like. Just like Princess Agnes. The only problem is, of course, that now I want to write the third…
* Alas, I know this name but cannot spell it.