CINDERELLA – a fairy tale
Devised by Sally Cookson, Adam Peck & The Original Company.
4**** utterly enchanting
The Brockley Jack Studio, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 5 January 2019.Tues-Sat 7.30pm.Runs 90 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366
Review: William Russell 14 December
A delightful original telling of an oft told tale
The Jack Studio’s Christmas shows can be surprising and always very good indeed, but this year Kate Bannister has surpassed herself with this version of the Cinderella story devised by Sally Cookson and Adam Peck. Cinderella is a twitcher, she has a way with birds, who come to her aid in time of trouble rather than a fairy godmother. She is none too thrilled when her father remarries and she meets her nasty new step mother and her step brother and sister, who are not ugly, just spoilt and browbeaten by their mother. Bryan Pilkington plays both her father and her step mother which gives rise to one of the production’s best moments. We think he is being put into the finery for his wedding, but in fact he is being dressed up to transform into the new wife. As a piece of stage magic it is beautifully simple and it works.
The new siblings are pretty awful, with the step brother (Joel Black) the nicer of the two. In the woods Cinderella, now a skivvy in the kitchen, out to meet her beloved birds encounters a fellow twitcher (Charlie Bateman, long, lanky and wet but nice) and they form an instant bond. He invites her to a party which, she accepts without quite working out who he really is – namely the bachelor Prince Charming. In due course Stepmother purloins the invitation, and, realising that someone will get the prince as the ball is intended to find him a bride, decides to increase her chances of a rich son in law by dressing up her son as a girl, much to his annoyance. The plot follows the usual story line although out of the ordinary is that we do get the bit about toes being cut off to fit the glass slipper – a pair of sequin covered boots. A particularly nasty punishment is inflicted on the step mother which, I think, actually belongs to quite a different tale by the Brothers Grimm but that is by the way.
The songs are jolly. Molly Byrne is a jaunty, no nonsense Cinders perfectly capable of looking after herself – there is a splendid scene when she gets her step siblings, played with relish by Aimee Louise Bevan and Joel Black, to scrub the floor for her by pretending they will discover a hidden pot of gold – Bryan Pilkington is as wicked a stepmother as there has ever been whose move on the Prince, after realising her girl and her boy in a dress are getting nowhere, is a thing of comic delight.
This is a pantomime an adult audience can enjoy without it having to be larded with smut. The nearest it gets to a double entendre is when the Prince and Joel Black in a dress pretending to be a lady get on rather well on the dance floor.
The show passes in a trice, a fairy tale perfectly told for adults and children amusingly performed and perfectly staged. As for the birds, seldom have folded bits of paper been more inventively used.
Ella: Molly Byrne.
Father/Stepmother: Bryan Pilkington.
Sister/Queen: Aimee Louise Bevan.
Bother: Joel Black.
Prince: Charlie Bateman.
Director: Kate Bannister.
Composer: Elliot Clay.
Set Designer: Karl Swinyard.
Lighting Designer: Ben Jacobs.
Costume Designer: Martin Robinson.
Sound Designer: Phil Matejtschuk.
Puppetry Consultant: Will Pinchin.
Dance Choreography: Matthew Parker.