Nepotism aside, this quirky, nay bonkers, reimagining of the story is good fun. It redefines the myth’s fairy figure as misunderstood, rather than evil. When Fairy (a noteworthy stand-in performance from Neïma Naouri) is summoned to the palace to help two sleep-deprived parents pacify their baby daughter, irritation at the belligerent king and queen infuriates Fairy into casting a hex instead of a blessing – but she spends the next century looking for ways to make up for it.
Lisa Lambe (Fairy), Rosie Graham (Princess Rose) and Michael Elcock (Prince Bert) in Hex at the National Theatre. Photo: Johan Persson
There's still a love story at the heart of the show, but for the most part we see Prince Bert (Michael Elcock, bringing oodles of energy and enviable dance moves) and Princess Rose (Rosie Graham, feisty and authentic) striving to get by as new parents. Throw into the mix a bloodthirsty ogress, a gaggle of yellow mop-haired princes and a band of villainous thorns, and you've got a show that gently mocks the tropes of olde-worlde fairytales while still celebrating their charms.
It's gorgeous too, thanks to Katrina Lindsay's costume and stage design. There's high fairies hovering above the stage in rippling dresses, courtly characters in concertina tutus, and a circular, rotating stage overlooked by fairy-lit bike wheels.
The songs are best when they lean into the show's humour, with love-at-first-sight number Hello the musical highlight. It's later reprised very successfully as Rose meets Bert's possessive mother for the first time and a tug-of-war looks set to ensue.
It's the attention to detail that really makes Hex sing, while the add-on theme of the trials of parenting – from tip-toeing around a baby to eventually letting them fly the nest – is a lovely touch.
Full of originality and fit for all the family, Hex is a musical must this Christmas.
|What||Hex, National Theatre review|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
26 Nov 22 – 14 Jan 23, 7:15 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£20 - £89|
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|