The new musical based on the fairytale Sleeping beauty has officially opened at the National Theatre.
The Guardian: **** “Charles Perrault’s grisly, grief-ridden version of the tale is this production’s source: child-rearing and the darker side of postpartum motherhood are dealt with head-on. There are vulnerable, failed or monstrous mothers but they are drawn in a way that allows us to empathise, and allows them the space for transformation. It is complicated subject matter for a family show, yet it works and creates a well of emotional depth.”
The Stage: ** “The National Theatre’s long-awaited musical is a frustrating, overcooked mess.”
WhatsOnStage: *** “It’s that humanity the show needs. It’s full of effects and enchantment, but it is only when Bert and Rose are kept firmly in view that it truly finds the extra level it seeks.”
Time Out: *** “‘Sleeping Beauty’ is a love story. ‘Hex’ hasn’t quite decided what it is. It’s got a lot of stuff in it about the difficulties of motherhood, without having anything coherent to say about them. It’s kind of about self-discovery, but again, there’s not really the sense that Fairy goes on much of a journey. Instead, this is an elaborate gingerbread castle of a show that’s built on candyfloss-light foundations: lovely to look at, undeniably impressive, but doomed to collapse under the weight of its own overweening ambition.”
All That Dazzles: ** “Ultimately, beautiful staging and a fairytale cast aren’t enough to make up for the sleepy writing. It’s an admirable attempt to bring something new to a classic story although it never quite reaches the potential it has lurking somewhere inside. This means that, sadly, Hex never quite wakes up to have its happy ending. There is still plenty to enjoy in Hex that makes a trip to see it worthwhile. It also seems to be a show that has split opinion with many in the audience falling under its spell.”
Evening Standard: ** “The first half of Tanya Ronder’s book seems desperate to sanitise the underlying horror and unfairness of fairytales, while the second pitches us into visions of flesh-eating infanticide. Jim Fortune’s score occasionally rises to Sondheim-ish levels of intricate cleverness, but the scenery is more hummable.”
The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “Hex is, unquestionably, visually delightful. Creatively, those responsible have been set loose to really run wild. Katrina Lindsay’s sets and costumes, along with Paul Anderson’s gorgeous lighting design create a rich, magical, intriguing world filled with flying fairies, an exploded forest backdrop, surreal characters and dynamic set pieces.”
City Am: “There are some memorable songs and dance pieces, best of all from the villainous set of ‘thorns,’ a troupe of literal thorns brought to life by performers in spiky outfits. And Fairy is a decent heroine you end up willing to end up on top. She’s brought to emotional life by Lisa Lambe, in an especially gorgeous costume. There’s some brilliant weirdness here, but it doesn’t quite all add up.”
The Arts Desk: **** “If Rufus Norris took a chance combining the jobs of director and lyricist and, as Director of the National Theatre, commissioning his wife to write the book in the minefield that is a new musical production, he largely succeeds. There might not be a showstopping song but there’s no duds either, there might not be full comeuppance for villainy but there’s real jeopardy too, and there might not flying cars above our heads, but there’s plenty enough spectacle for kids complacent after growing up on video games and Marvel movies. In the final reckoning, Hex delivers on musical theatre’s central proposition – it entertains.”
Broadway World: *** “Hex is an enjoyable family show, but is frustratingly bogged down by certain elements to be a real success.”
The Telegraph: **** “Hex plays, largely triumphantly, to Rufus Norris’s somewhat underused strengths as a director.”
London Unattached: “Overall, Hex is an entertaining re-imagined tale based on Sleeping Beauty which incorporates enough modern values and original twists intriguing enough for adults to enjoy while simultaneously being exciting enough for children to watch. It’s the perfect cultural treat for all ages during the holidays.”
Hex continues to play at the National Theatre until the 14th January.