In London’s (Off) West End 2019: James Seabright presents Not Too Tame’s Cinderella (Review)
★★★☆☆ (Performance attended 5/12/19)
A classic fairy tale gets an outrageous, pub theatre treatment.
LONDON – What’s a holiday season without a little booze and good cheer? Not Too Tame certainly knows those are the key ingredients to having a good time, as they bring their acclaimed production of Cinderella to the Vaults this holiday season.
Written by Luke Barnes and directed by Jimmy Fairhurst, Cinderella takes the classic rags to riches fairytale and gives it the quintessential English touch – by setting it in a pub. Much of the story has been blown up to absurd proportions, and it’s a show best enjoyed if you’re a little inebriated and more inclined to join in the fun.
Taking place in a pub, with a bar as the central set piece (all designed by Jen McGinley), the show primarily revolves around scenes marked by sing-alongs to popular tunes, something the audience gets into rather readily as the cast eggs us on. The show opens with the entire cast coming together to sing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, encapsulating the unpredictability and whimsical humour that characterises the show. We meet ‘Simone and Garfunkel’ (Louise Haggerty and Megan Pemberton), the new versions of the ugly stepsisters who introduce themselves as event planners, while their mum ‘Judy Garland’ (Lizzie Hopley), a diva through and through, only wishes for their success. We’re told that this is Dave’s Karaoke Bar, intended to be inherited and succeeded by his daughter Cinderella (Rosa Coduri), playing the maid and our hapless heroine, fighting against all odds to succeed. And we even meet a dog (Patrick Knowles) who somehow loves chewing on prosthetic legs.
Much of Cinderella unfolds rather loosely, but is always engaging with the cast’s madcap energy seeing it through when they interact with the audience, who’re often spontaneously asked to participate in various activities, from singing to dancing. Renditions of ABBA’s ‘Voulez-Vous’ are sung to calm down an angry mother, the sisters, one brunette and one blonde, bicker endlessly. An over-the-top Prince Charming (Jack Condon) works overtime to find his princess, while the winsome Cindrella captures our hearts with her tragic tale, as the daughter of the former pub owner now left to mop up each night and do all the dirty work.
As a ‘site-specific’ style work, even familiar elements such as the stroke of midnight is no longer represented by a clock, but by the sound of a bingo machine going off. The fairy godmother is now referred to as just ‘Mike’ (director Jimmy Fairhurst), a hulking, bearded man dressed in boots and a shimmery golden dress (and absolutely knows how to party). And as a Christmas pantomime, the festive spirit is absolutely in the air, from the decor to the storyline, with everyone feeling like they’re ready to break into a carol (but wind up with karaoke favourites instead).
Not Too Tame’s Cinderella is a wild ride of a pantomime from start to end, sticking closely to the original Cinderella narrative, but fully relishing its inane and absurd nature that results in a work that’s altogether quite delightful. Come with an open mind and get ready to have your impression of Cinderella completely subverted with this joyous little show that’ll leave you with a smile, and a happy ever after.
Photo Credit: Geraint Lewis
Cinderella runs from 22nd November 2019 to 12th January 2020 at The Vaults, London. Tickets available here