by Phil Porter.
Unicorn Theatre Tooley Street S To 24 January 2010.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7645 0560.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 13 December.
Set sail with Cinderella.
Keeping house for her father, and others, aboard their ship the Floating Cassandra, rooming-place for retired magicians, lively young Cinders is beset by the loud, gauche, pretentious Yargs; Sheila who’s after an advantageous marriage, and loudly-dressed daughters Monopoly and Tixylix.
It turns out Sheila’s after the wrong husband, with the delirious inconsequence Phil Porter brings to his version of Cinderella. Long before Sheila throws her explanation at our incredulity, names, events and set-up (a floating home for retired magicians; that came from where exactly?) have parted company from being believable – this ship is the Cassandra, after all.
So Sheila’s announcement that Cinders has an obsession with worms – which has a result later on – is neither more nor less likely than the magicians deciding, for their next trick, they will pretend to be superglued to each other – something that has a knock-on impact on the action.
As for Gavin, the giant seagull with a most unChekhovian manner; well, he makes an impact too. But there’s a bit more than jokes to all this. Amid the fantastications, the panto-like cross-gender casting and sisters’ awful-taste costumes, two characters stand out in the reality of their feelings. The two young audience members of 6+ will ally with: Cinderella and her princely feller.
The monarchy’s having problems here, and a royal wedding is just the thing to quiet things down. X-Factoring a match proves disastrous, and soulmates Prince Amjad and Cinderella find each other only after a more-than-usually successful bluff by the sisters, which has Amjad on the verge – almost across the threshold – of a wrong marriage before a deus, or playwright, steps in ex machina.
This Unicorn show doesn’t mine the Cinderella story for its emotional riches, but it’s a happily quirky variant in which good-hearted youth finally overcomes an older world where the overbearing rule. And it’s heartily portrayed in Tony Graham’s enjoyably-acted production, where Amaka Okafor is a spirited Cinders, whose problem lies in a father too indecisive to challenge his newly-attached womenfolk, and Liam Lane a Prince not only Charming but Restless till he meets the girl from the Floating Cassandra.
Queen/Mrs Mifflock: Samantha Adams.
Mr Marakovic/Wedding Singer: Justin Butcher.
Miss Tixylix Yarg/Miss Antonia Tiplady: John Cockerill.
Mrs Sheila Yarg/Mrs Peafendorf: Julie Hewlett.
Prince Amjad: Liam Lane.
Miss Monopoly Yarg/Miss Calpirnia Burke: Ery Nzaramba.
Cinderella: Amaka Okafor.
Dad/Miss Ptolomina Flugelhorn: Rupert Wickham.
Director: Tony Graham.
Designer: Russell Craig.
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick.
Composer: Martin Ward.
Music Coach: Justin Butcher.
Movement: Scott Graham.
Assistant director: Louis Wedgbury.