The Tale of the Beauty & the Tail of the Beast

From the moment that Monsieur Affable’s Performing Players’ bound onto the North Wall stage we were hooked.

Hooked and enchanted, as the 18th century eccentric, scruffy, cantankerous, vain, flawed, colourful troupe reenact Monsieur Affable‘s latest work The Tale of the Beauty and The Tail of The Beast.

Monsieur Affable’s Performing Players’ in The Tale of the Beauty & the Tail of the Beast

It’s about a father who is apprehended by a beast and forced to offer his daughter Maria in exchange for his life. Sound familiar? Yes it’s Beauty and The Beast but not as you know it. read about it here

Because this is Creation, and they don’t follow the rules, so instead we are lead through a madcap, fast-paced, kaleidoscope of stories, costumes, songs, dancing, gags, sets and characters, which slowly begin to make sense.

Grizelda the Grim_Anna Tolputt

You can blame lead actress Gabrielle (think Edith Piaf mixed with The Joker) – played so intoxicatingly by Anna Tolputt, who drops the script, thereby inextricably entwining Monsieur Affable‘s three tales for ever.

But in so doing Creation, via Paul Boyd, gets to break up the certainty of a well known fairy tale winding its way to an inevitable end, by keeping us on our toes.

The Tale of the Beauty & the Tail of the Beast

It also ensures that the impressive and numerous multi roles of this tight knit team are self explanatory, aided by their flawless dexterity and consummate professionalism.

Which leaves extra time for maximum enjoyment. And as the songs aren’t just throw away festive trills but really stick in your head, and the set (thanks to Ryan Dawson Laight) is part vaudeville, part Kit Kat Club and part Hicksville and the vocal range, especially Delvine Pitt‘s, is uplifting, it’s not hard.

The Tale of the Beauty & the Tail of the Beast with Kofi Dennis and Delvene Pitt

Throw in the challenging sisters Didi and Mimi (very Cinderella) the glowing Emily Woodward the perfect partner for Anna Tolputt’s comedic and petulant depiction, Kofi Dennis‘ abject hostility as the troupe’s reluctant gopher Barbot batting constantly against Monsieur Affable (Nicholas Osmond) who is desperately trying to keep the show on the road, and there is never a dull moment.

Guffawingly funny, poignant and ridiculous, we are enchanted by this mismatched bunch and their trials and tribulations until the very end.

Mimi (Anna Tolputt) and Didi (Emily Woodward)

So yes, Creation has done it again, proving overwhelmingly why we are so lucky to have them, as the local theatre company sprinkles a little Christmas magic over Oxford.

An absolute must for the festive season.

Katherine MacAlister

Creation’s The Tale of the Beauty and The Tail of The Beast is at The North Wall until January 7. Book at