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Adult twist on a classic tale; REVIEW.

Beauty and the Beast WARWICK ARTS CENTRE, COVENTRY BEAUTY and the Beast is the kind of tongue-in-cheek, funny and touching X-rated performance piece you'd see in a New York art house theatre.

Detroit-born burlesque dancer and conceptual performer and her husband, the British disabled drummer/actor intertwine their personal love-story with an erotic gothic horror reinterpretation of Beauty and the Beast.

The endearing couple swap quirky, insightful and sexy true stories about their lives and relationship in the small intimate space. Comfortable in their own skin they spend more time naked than in fancy dress, and graphically simulate sex on stage.

Mat tells how he first met Julie while hosting a burlesque show in Coney Island. He was "transfixed" by her comic horror striptease act - which she then recreates.

Mat was born with congenital phocomelia, caused by exposure to the drug thalidomide.

His mother was prescribed the drug while pregnant. He has small arms and no thumbs. Aged nine Mat's uneasy parents took him to a prosthetics specialist hospital in Roehampton where he realised that he was supposed to choose some arms - an offer he declined. But 25 years later he thought it would be funny as an actor to get some arms on the NHS. "These helped me to win an award for best UK male striptease," he laughs.

One of the most moving moments is when Julie describes her goodbye ritual as she waves Mat off in a New York yellow cab back to London.

The result is a very sweet, honest and earthy love story.

The two performers are supported by ingenious puppeteers Jonny Dixon and Jess Jones who make Beauty and the Beast silhouette projections, a red rose out of tissue paper and turn white plastic bags into (procreating) bunny rabbits.

Not only does this cabaretsyle show confront the taboos of disability, sex and nudity head on; it challenges the inanity, sexism and absurdity of the classic Beauty and the Beast children's story. And there is the most suggestive use of fresh fruit ever. Do not take your kids.

Ends tonight.

CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR

CAPTION(S):

Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz in Beauty and the Beast
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 27, 2013
Words:360
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