It has its good bits and its cringeworthy bits, but overall, Cinderella provided the right kind of warm fuzzy feeling we need just before Christmas.
First Family Entertainment presents the picture perfect Cinderella, with glitter, sparkle and a storyline that veers in the completely opposite direction of the dark original.
As Buttons, Andy Ford excelled this year in his traditional role of pantomime Village Idiot. To great comedy effect, his novelty trick through the show was the use of a West Country Translator device. This was used to rewind scenes and replay them with Bristolian words and accents.
Top billed performer this year is the flamboyant Louie Spence, who is an absolute cracker as the prince’s aid Dandini. Wearing hot pink sequins and never turning down an opportunity to turn through a set of fouettes, Spence’s performance alone brings back Bristol’s pantomime reputation after last year’s cast crisis.
The Ugly Sisters in this show mixed proper job sinister with their comedy characters, showing us some fantastic acting not usually associated with such roles. Graham Hoadly and Paul Burnham went well together and were simply brilliant in all their scenes.
The pace of the show was good, only dipping during the necessary evil love songs between Suzanne Shaw as Cinderella and Andrew Derbyshire as Prince Charming. Though the main character of the story, in pantomime, Cinderella is a rather naff part doing not much but singing nicely, being kind and getting married to someone she has known for two minutes. Suzanne Shaw was great for the part. Some of the musical numbers didn’t suit her voice but she did manage to look beautiful and pull the right faces at the right times.
As a fantastic novelty, 3D film brought the tradition of monsters dispatching members of the cast up-to-date. Perhaps the spiders flying into the auditorium was a touch too far as children screamed and hid in fright.
Finally, Louie Spence accidentally smashing the Crystal slipper at the end was a nice touch of actual proper drama.
If those were the ups, there was certainly some downs. It’s entirely possible to create the magic of Cinderella pantomines without the use of Shetland ponies. The two animals pulling the coach at the end of act one were clearly not entirely comfortable. One attempted to make a break for it needing the handler to come on stage and the second writhed around on the floor having slipped over. The thought of them dragging Suzanne Shaw off into the wings would be funny if it wasn’t so sad seeing them so evidently uncomfortable on the stage.
Second down point was a
play on words Polish cleaner joke which was an unwelcome hark back to yesteryear panto bigotry rightly missing from the rest of the writing.
Generally though, if you like your Christmas theatre with a bit of passive viewing and without too much of an imagination stretch, this will do the job.
Cinderella at the Bristol Hippodrome is running until 05 January 2014
Tickets from £10