book and lyrics by Ben Crocker music by Paul Kissaun.
The Theatre 2 Spring Street OX7 5NL To 6 January 2013.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 01608 642350.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 December.
A bright, light panto that knows its audience.
Down at Battersea, with Kneehigh Theatre, a pumpkin’s replacing more traditional top-of-the-Christmas Tree decorations. Up in Chipping Norton, Cinderella’s living in Venice, so a gondola’s in order to take her to the Ball. But pumpkins don’t make good gondolas. The answer? Cue a cucumber.
It’s one of writer Ben Crocker’s pleasant details. A long-term panto-scribbler, Crocker became involved with Chipping Norton’s Christmas show some years ago and has evidently grown accustomed to the place.
Theatre, and panto, Director John Terry makes the most of the Venetian setting, sending the musicians onto a bridge of sounds, if not Sighs, while designer Russell Craig evokes a beautiful twilight and evening Venetian waterscape, inhabited by wearers of Nell Hudson’s costumes, stylish or garish according to character. This Cinders and her Prince won’t have to bust a bank or travel far for a romantic honeymoon.
Otherwise, it’s the panto features as always, although some of the routines seem tacked-on so they won’t be missed, coming late in the action, being short-lived and not that necessary to he story’s momentum. Instead, there’s a significant role for a Mouse as Buttons’ friend (at this performance Hannah Burman was a sharp, attentive and intelligent rodent, ever smiling, responsive and practical).
Everyone else does as they should, with Lizzie Franks a sympathetic Cinders, Richard Croughan and Shaun Hennessy self-regarding and inept as the sisters, Croughan a tall, looming presence, Hennessy stockier and fussier, with comically incontinent dogs at hand. When Buttons offers their secret stock of sweets to the audience, the place goes wild in the annual display of supply failing to meet demand. There’s enjoyment too at the chance to propel tiny boats round the auditorium in a gondola race.
Lauren Silver’s Dandini is untrustworthy, Amy Rhiannon-Worth’s Prince an imposing figure and commanding presence even in disguise, with Karen Davies interchanging between a rather vapid Fairy and a viciously sneering villain.
So, everything’s as it should be. The deeper roots of the Cinderella tradition are hardly touched upon, though the sisters’ feet are assaulted at slipper-time. Otherwise, it’s light, bright and pleases without boring or upsetting anyone.
Tutti: Richard Croughan.
Fairy Godmother/Baronessa: Karen Davies.
Cinderella: Lizzie Franks.
Frutti: Shaun Hennessy.
Buttons: Matt Pinches.
Dandini: Lauren Silver.
Prince Charming: Amy Rhiannon Worth.
Mouse: Beth Simpson/Hannah Burman/Lucy Pomeroy.
Pippins: Ellen Williams-Sharkey, JJ Simpson, Charlie Weaver/Amelia Ledgard-Hoile, Maisie Frater, Jacob Robinson/Jasmine Soper, Aidan Hughes, Charlie Hill.
Director: John Terry.
Designer: Russell Craig.
Lighting: Amy Southeard.
Sound: Tom Smith.
Musical Supervisor: Paul Kissaun.
Musical Director: Peter Pontzen.
Choreographer/Assistant director: Tim Claydon.
Costume: Nell Knudsen.