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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

Tinderella - Cinders Slips It In

 

Photo by Gaz

 

Written by Jon Bradfield & Martin Hooper

Songs by John Bradfield

Director - Andrew Beckett

Designer - David Shields

Lighting Designer - Chris Withers

Sound Designer - Phil Hewitt

Projection Designer - Jack Weir

Associate Costume Designer - Nina Morley

Production Assistant - Lucas Livesey

Musical Director - Aaron Clingham

Musical Arrangement and Incidental Music Designer - Lucas Livesey

Choreographer - Aaron Jenson

Produced by Peter Bull

 

Above The Stag Theatre

 
26 November 2015 – 16 January 2016

 

Another Christmas, another gloriously irreverent pantomime at Above The Stag Theatre in Vauxhall. In this loose (in every sense) adaptation of Cinderella, Cinders is played by Grant Cartwright, the most jovial and personable actor I’ve ever seen in the role. Oozing energy and positivity, he carries the burden of playing the slave for his wicked stepmother with ease and optimism. Countess Volga (Ellen Butler) had Cinder’s father on her list of former husbands, all of whom met their end in doubtful circumstances.  Following his loss he’s been forced into the role of slave boy for the Countess and her hilariously repulsive daughters Maude Escort (Louie Westwood)  and Nicole Ferrari (Christopher James Barley). With only a life-sized mouse and his smitten friend Buttons (Lucas Meredith) for company he turns to Tinder for some consolation.

 

Ugly Stepsisters - Louie Westwood and Christopher James Barley in Tinderella: Cinders Slips It In

Photo by Gaz

 

Meanwhile in Slutvia, King Ludwig (Andrew Truluck) is preparing for a birthday ball in honour of his fabulously vain, gloriously camp son, Charming (Joseph Lycett-Barnes) in the hope of finding him a suitable wife. With a blundering stoner Fairy Godmother (Rebecca Travers) on-board, all roads lead to the palace and a chance brief meeting of Charming and Cinders in a graveyard cements the possibility that the ‘suitable wife’ might already have been located. Audience participation brings the entire room into the story (though a rowdy FROW still threatened to disrupt the show on the night I attended). A wonderfully composed cast took all disturbances in their stride and even managed to build them into further comic opportunities.

Ellen Butler is a villain so captivating that I found myself unable to boo her as Countess Volga. Murderess, remorseless, and shameless she commands any scene she’s present in due to her enchanting stage presence, exquisite costuming and confident gait. Her daughters are the best duo of dames you’re likely to find this Christmas season. Maude Escort is brash beyond description and yet Louie Escort manages to bring a strange kind of endearment to her character. Nicole Ferrari is a sourer sort and her fantastically cringe-worthy efforts to bag Charming are hilarious in their serious resolve.

 

Ellen Butler as Countess Volga aka Stepmother in Tinderella: Cinders Slips It In

Photo by Gaz

 

Songs by John Bradfield which are thoughtfully dispersed throughout proceedings elevate the humour to riotous levels. The absolute highlight is a duet between Prince Charming and Cinders when he finally makes it to the ball with the help of his loveable Fairy. With any notions of reverence and decency left unapologetically in the alley, Bradfield’s centrepiece is brilliant in its bawdiness and compellingly catchy to boot. Musically as in every other dimension Tinderella delivers everything an audience could wish for from a pantomime.

Even the place names are wonderfully constructed and developed. Two key political issues for Slutvia are that gay marriage is not legal and they’ve been banned from the Eurovision Song Contest on behavioural grounds. Both these issues are wound into the plot in an impressively astute manner. Nina Morley has also lent an absolutely magical touch with her perceptively inventive costuming.

Structurally, Tinderella makes the most of every inch of the stage at Above The Stag. Clever use of projections, inventive props and lighting that dances to the beat of the action all contribute to the fun-packed atmosphere.  Choreography by Aaron Jenson is particularly notable, not least during the key scene in the tale as the clock strikes midnight and the whole cast descend into a perfect slow motion trance. It feels like a tease to review such a production when it’s already pretty much sold-out but I’d go so far as to recommend you keep a close eye on any cancellations if you’ve not been lucky enough to grab one of the hottest tickets of the season.

 

Joseph Lycett Barnes as Charming and Grant Cartwright as Tinders

Photo by Gaz

 

http://www.abovethestag.com/

Above The Stag Theatre
Arch 17, Miles Street, London. SW8 1RZ
 
Tickets - £19.50 £50
 

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