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March 17, 2014
Review: Beauty and the Beast

When I got my tickets for "Beauty and the Beast", the person at the box office blanched and asked if I was over eighteen.

This just underscores the point: this production is for mature audiences only. Leave your kids at home. Written and performed by Mat Fraser, a disabled British performer who revels in Uncomfortable Theater, and Julie Muz, a burlesque dancer, the show contains excessive nudity, as well as clever puppeteering, some good laughs, and a heartwarming message about embracing your inner Beast, or freak.

Fraser and Muz were inspired to re-imagine Beauty and the Beast based on their own relationship. The Beast, played by Fraser, struggles to accept his exterior flaws, at one point commandeering ghostly puppet arms to appear "normal", which makes for some funny sight gags. Highlights of the show include a series of monologues spliced throughout the show, in which Fraser and Muz each talk about why and how they fell in love, and a creative opening animation sequence done on a slide projector.

This re-telling of Beauty and the Beast makes for a great metaphor for disability and how society perceives flaws. Quick-paced and with burlesque sensibilities, though not for the squeamish or faint of heart, this is a brilliant piece of underground theater you won't want to miss. Hurry and see it at Abrons Arts Center in Manhattan before it closes on March 30.

But seriously, no children.

Warning: this show contains both beautiful and beastly nudity, and scenes of an explicit sexual nature. Age guidance: 18+

Through Mar. 30 at Abrons Arts Center.

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