Monday, 26 January 2009

Cinderella - Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Written & Directed by Michael Harrison

Reviewer: Ian Cain

If each and every one of us could have our very own Fairy Godmother, I’d bet we’d all be thrilled if we were given Birds of a Feather star, Lesley Joseph to grant our wishes. Well, the much-loved actress is waving her
magic wand, sprinkling fairy dust and making all manner of dreams come true in Cinderella at Plymouth Theatre Royal.

Lesley Joseph tops the bill in a spectacularly lavish production that is, without doubt, one of the finest pantomimes that I have seen in
many years and from the moment she descends onto the stage she owns it. Incorporating all the characteristics that made Dorien Green a cult comedy character, Miss Joseph delivers a non-stop, high-octane performance in which she capably and firmly holds the audience in the palm of her hand.

She leads a strong cast that includes Matt Slack as Buttons, Laura Evans as Cinderella and Martin Ramsdin and David Robbins as the Ugly Sisters.

This is a production that has all the values of a West End musical – there’s fireworks, dry ice, stunning sets, sensational costumes and a magical transformation scene, complete with a flying Pegasus, that has the eyes of young and old twinkling an
d glistening with delight and enchantment. Oh, and of course, there’s plenty of good old panto fun and audience participation, too!

Laura Evans is everything Cinderella should be: demure, engaging, sweet and pretty. As well as looking fantastic,
she sounds it in her musical numbers, too. Martin Ramsdin and David Robbins are wonderful as Trinny and Susannah, Cinderella’s sadistic step-sisters, and their outrageous costumes are gloriously gaudy. The pair provide some great comedy moments and they must be two of the fastest-changing dames in the business. Trevor Jary is a suitably handsome and dashing Prince Charming and Kevin Brewis is wonderful as the foppish Dandini.

Matt S
lack is a firm favourite with the audience and he works his socks off as a rather cheeky Buttons. His performance incorporates impressions, stand-up comedy and physical clowning and he excels in everything he does. The scenes that he and Lesley Joseph share are pure entertainment and it is a joy to see two consummate performers, who both completely understand the art and stagecraft of pantomime, spark off each other as they ad-lib, corpse and leave the audience in stitches. The scene in which they perform a specially modified version of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ with the Ugly Sisters is worth the ticket price in itself. It’s reassuring to know that, in an age of uncertainty, the theatre can still transport its audience to a place where worries can be put aside – if only temporarily – and a good time can be had by every generation of the family. Thank Goodness for panto!

Runs until Saturday 31st Jan 2009
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