by Kneehigh Theatre.
Grand Hall Battersea Arts Centre Lavender Hill SW11 5TN To 13 January 2013.
Tue-Sat & 23 Dec, 13 Jan 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun & 27, 31 Dec, 2 Jan 2.30pm no performance 25 Dec, 31 Dec eve, 1 Jan.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval + one pause (5min).
TICKETS: 020 7223 2223.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 15 December.
Kneehigh hardly takes a toe-hold on the Cinderella story.
It depends what you want. Some people wanted a wedding party at Battersea’s arts centre and they got one, in the council chamber. The Midnight’s Pumpkin crowd got pretty much a party too, and, call it Saturday night or whatever, a large number of them seemed to like it a lot.
Mind you, create a sense of complicity and excitement and audience members can be persuaded into almost anything. Forty years of feminism fall away as Phil Brodie’s strutting Prince provokes tsunamis of screaming enthusiasm from female throats, or in the loudest cheer of all when Midnight’s dad starts asserting himself over the household’s women.
By comparison, Audrey Brisson’s Midnight seems lacking in personality – and a Cinderella figure should suggest some potential early on – until her last act aerial skill swung her above the common herd.
Though the herd has its chances; there are two intervals, the second unrealistically timed at 5 minutes. Yet this, more than the earlier break, is used for a mass line-dance. As I say, if it’s a party you’re after…
Cinders is called Midnight, her spiritual adviser becomes vegetable wisdom in the shape, colour and costume of a pumpkin. Experienced Kneehigh hand Giles King (at some performances Mike Shepherd) clambers around, covering some awkward stagecraft involving a hut and actors as mice with genial chat and jokes delivered so their hoariness seems part of the fun.
It’s only in the third act that anything like a story take hold, though Stu Goodwin is strong throughout as Midnight’s Father and the Prince’s Servant, both characters who are harassed by those around.
The title seems to suggest a deeper draught from the deep well of the Cinderella story. Instead, the show’s mostly set-pieces and attempts to whip-up an audience enthusiasm that the show’s scarcely earned. If the title’s meant as a joke – something ridiculous or meaningless-sounding – it fits most of the evening. If it was ever meant to suggest more, then something’s been lost along the way.
Of course, Kneehigh’s way is distinctive in its, usually serious, playfulness. Here, that style seems stuck in a rut.
Midnight: Audrey Brisson.
Prince: Phil Brodie.
Father: Stu Goodwin.
Pumpkin Man: Giles King/Mike Shepherd,
Ugly Sisters: Patrycja Kujawska, Kirsty Woodward.
Stepmother: James Traherne.
Musicians: Stu Barker, Alex Vann.
Directors: Mike Shepherd, Emma Rice.
Designer: Michael Vale.
Lighting: Malcolm Rippeth.
Sound: Simon Baker.
Music: Stu Barker, Ian Ross, Stuart McLoughlin.
Choreographer: Etta Murfitt.
Associate lighting: Matt Britten.
Associate sound: Andy Graham.