Review: Cinderella, King’s Theatre

Grant stott and  Ross Marshall star as the McPhlegm sisters.
Grant stott and Ross Marshall star as the McPhlegm sisters.
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EVERY parent has one. That book or DVD that their kid just can’t get enough of but that they would happily toss on the bonfire given half a chance.

You wonder if it’s the same for panto writers. Do they have stories of which they have just had enough? After all, there are only so many ways you can re-tell the classics.

For the most part, producer, director and writer Paul Elliott has done an excellent job of giving Cinderella a makeover. The opening twists wrong-foot the audience so that they are genuinely interested in where the story might lead. There are beautifully choreographed dance scenes and the cast is well directed.

In the production’s enthusiasm to sweep aside the old, however, the baby seems to have been chucked out with the bath water.

Yes, the King’s annual trio of trouble – Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott – are up to their usual audience-approved mischief, Stott’s magnificent Gobina McPhlegm holding malicious sway over the production. The rest of the principals fulfil their duties comfortably and Ross Marshall’s put-upon Hocktoo McPhlegm is a delight.

But Cinders herself seems to have lost her magic. The set pieces that we expect of the story – her change from peasant to princess, the glass slipper, the happy ending – have all been edited down to brief glimpses. It’s a bit like watching Wicked when you’ve paid up to see the Wizard of Oz – it’s just as good but all the drama happens off stage.

While this doesn’t take away from the fun the cast are having regaling their parts of the story on stage, many of the elements that the audience expect of a panto have been pushed aside – there’s only one short “it’s behind you” scene, only one little girl from the audience was involved in any fairy magic, and Cinders and her beau get kissy awfully prematurely (isn’t that for the end?).

Of course, families are going to flock to Cinderella and love every second of the cast’s silly banter and Stott’s sinister sashaying, and there are songs and sketches that will appeal to everyone. One just can’t help but long for a sprinkling of fairy dust.

Run ends January 22