BUTTONS – Another Cinderella Story
by John Savournin and David Eaton.
Rosemary Branch Theatre 2 Shepperton Road N1 3DT To 7 January 2014.
7.30pm December 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 28, 29 Dec, 2 Jan.
3pm 22 Dec, 5 Jan (young children’s mats),
3pm 28, 30 Dec, 2, 4 Jan.
7.30pm Adults only 20, 22, 27, 30, 31 Dec, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Jan.
9pm (extra cheeky show) 13 Dec.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 704 6665.
Review: William Russell 10 December.
Buttons and Buttocks.
The seventh Charles Court Opera Company’s boutique pantomime is unalloyed delight, a feast of bad jokes, witty lines, and songs from here, there and everywhere performed by a brilliant cast. If there is a better pantomime in London this winter I will eat my critic’s hat.
John Savournin, who not only wrote the script but directed the show and plays Betty the Dame, has come up with a splendid new twist to the story of Cinderella. She lives with her widowed mother Betty on a farm and does all the housework while conducting a fantasy life with Buttons, her teddy bear.
One day Buttons’ fairy godfather – Simon Masterton-Smith doing a Sopranos act under the impression he is that kind of Godfather – turns the lovesick bear into a real boy who, somehow or other, acquires the name of Buttocks. Meanwhile Prince Charming, a mass murderer known as the Magic Menace, and his sleazebag sidekick Dandini – Rosie Strobel and Nichola Jolley flouncing around exuding evil – are killing off the inhabitants of fairy land and plotting that Charming will wed Cinderella for reasons that escaped me amid the general hilarity.
Will the course of true love run smooth? Will Widow Betty manage to persuade ever so shy village bobby, PC Pumpkin (Amy J Payne, a veteran of these pantos) to propose?
Savournin is a classic dame, miles removed from a drag queen, which is the whole point of pantomime. Statuesque and butch, he commands the stage uttering terrible jokes like the fact Daisy the cow has produced no milk being an udder failure and playing with the audience with just the right degree of complicity, whether sending up the young man in the front row, tossing sweets at all and sundry, or making cream pies which inevitably end up on someone’s head.
As Buttons/Buttocks, diminutive Matthew Kellett is endearing, Rosie Strobel as Prince – “Call me Gary” – Charming is a villain born to be hissed, and Joanna Marie Skillett’s Cinderella a delightful blonde bimbo who dresses as if she were Alice in Wonderland, warbles gloriously, and is clearly not really very bright.
Cinderella: Joanna Marie Skillett.
Buttons (her teddy bear): Matthew Kellett.
Betty (her mother): John Savournin.
Prince Charming (from a far-off Kingdom): Rosie Strobel.
Dandini (his valet): Nichola Jolley.
PC Pumpkin (the local constabulary): Amy J Payne.
The Fairy Godfather (as it says on the tin): Simon Masterton-Smith.
Director/Choreographer: John Savournin.
Designers: Louie Whitemore, Kate Lane.
Lighting: Nic Holdridge.
Musical Director: David Eaton.