Diane Parkes speaks to Alex Clatworthy about her stage debut in a Disney classic given a modern twist.
For actress Alex Clatworthy the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company production of Sleeping Beauty really is a fairytale come true – as she plays the title role in her first professional stage show.
The 26-year-old finished her training at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London this summer and was lucky enough to gain a prize part straight out of college.
“It really is a dream come true,” says Alex, who has already worked extensively in amateur stage and on television.
“It is a great production to be in as it is a real ensemble piece with everyone working together. And it is great fun to be working on a Christmas show. What I really like about it is that it is for kids but everything is being really thought out. There is a lot of discussion about the narrative clarity.”
If audiences are expecting the usual Sleeping Beauty they need to think again as writer Rufus Norris has gone back to basics.
“It certainly isn’t the Disney version which most people know,” says Alex.
“That was the story I knew and when I first saw the script I thought they had added all this crazy stuff in. I couldn’t imagine how they were going to piece it all together. But actually they have gone back to the original story.”
Based on the tale by French writer Charles Perrault, this is a darker Sleeping Beauty than a sugar-coated pantomime.
So Norris throws all kinds of lesser known ingredients into the mix including ogres, troublesome fairies – and Sleeping Beauty as a mum.
“There are actually two Sleeping Beauties in the story,” says Alex.
“There is the adolescent who has never been allowed outside. She is stroppy because she has always been locked in. She is a frustrated and pent-up teenager.
“But then, after she has been asleep, she is a mother and it is very interesting because now she no longer has her parents and has to face everything herself. And she has to do so as a mother.”
But Alex says it makes for a more interesting story.
“It has depth to it,” she says. “It is a story about children growing up and all they can face.”