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Beauty and the Beast at the Young Vic

Alice Dickerson

A show which is mesmerisingly beautiful and laugh-out-loud funny in equal measure.

They say never mix work and pleasure. Yet it is this mix that makes Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz's 'Beauty and the Beast' so brilliant, as they use the classic fairytale to tell their own unconventional love story.

Fraser, a well-known British actor recognisable partly due to phocomelia in both arms and Muz, a former American beauty queen (Miss Coney Island no less) turned actress and burlesque dancer, position themselves as the eponymous beast and beauty. The concept that someone with a disability may be cast in such a role is at first greeted with an almost palpable sense of awkwardness amongst the audience. Yet this dissipates rapidly as it becomes clear that not only did he cast himself in this role, Fraser is extremely confident within his body.

Thus unfolds a beautiful and at times eerie production which draws upon puppetry and cabaret to interweave the story of how Fraser and Muz met and fell in love with a re-telling of the old fable. Their shared sense of humour and bonhomie is explicit throughout. Be warned though; this is not Disney. Not only do both Fraser and Muz display full-frontal nudity; they are also equally explicit with their passion for one another. This is a play that may challenge preconceptions about disability, in a manner that could be described in many ways, but never as politically correct.

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