Theatre review: Cinderella

This panto needs more oomph says John Nathan


Like all traditions, pantomime is ripe for reinvention. This is why fresh blood in the form of panto newbies Timmika Ramsay in the title role of Cinderella and director Tinuke Craig can only be a good thing. In theory.

Along with writer Jude Christian the creators and star of this first offering of the panto season have subverted nearly every expectation attached to Cinderella, among them that exploitation is overcome when two white, heterosexual people fall in love.

So Christian’s reworked version of the fairy tale sees a modern, British, black Cinders working on a zero hours contract for her “snuggly” sisters Popsy and Topsy (Lauren Samuels and Mairi Barclay), both of them satisfyingly vile Instagram obsessives. With their mother Madame Meanie (Shobna Gulati) they live in a glammed up semi with a front door bookended by corinthian columns.

When Buttons (Jodie Jacobs) falls for Popsy, the two get married in a gay civil ceremony along with Cinders and her Prince, refreshingly played by Gabriel Fleary as a guileless geek.

And Cinderella’s shoe is a less crucial plot device here than the Prince’s bad eyesight which allows him to fall in love with Cinderella for who she is on the inside. Though she is, of course, perfectly lovely on the outside too.

Yet it turns out that merely placing social justice and inclusivity as the primary objective of a show is no guarantee of success.

You know early on that you are in for nearly two-and-a-half well-intentioned but anodyne hours when Madame Meanie’s reptilian enforcer is about as scary as a bloke with an inflatable crocodile on his head, a role gamely played by Lyric Ensemble member Bradley Bryant plus inflatable crocodile on his head.

Worse, when people throw colourful goo over each other, there is none of the intricate choreography or logic essential to make slapstick work.

Ever pulled a cracker that has no spark? Well, this panto has about the same effort-to-reward ratio.

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