Panto season is well and truly upon us but pantomime isn't just for children. Oh no it isn't! There's nothing like a adult panto and Cinderella: A Socially Distanced Ball is as adult as it gets!
Re-opening one of Londons newest venues, The Turbine Theatre in Battersea, Cinderella was written by Neil Hurst and West End star Jodie Prenger. Directed by Lizzy Connolly, together they put a new twist on the classic fairytale throughout a speedy 70 minutes, bringing it back up to date with references to Covid, social distancing and even Tory MPs.
If you don't like your humour sweary and offensive, this probably isn't the show for you. If you don't mind a good four letter word and a lot of sexual innuendo, sit back and enjoy the non-stop barrage of hilarious lines. The cast are clearly having the time of their lives being back on a stage. The sense of fun they are all having is infectious (perhaps not the best word to use this year) ensuring you are laughing with them, whether it's things going wrong or just another amazing gag thrown in while you're still laughing from the last one.
The titular role of Cinderella is played by Daisy Wood-Davis. Recently seen playing Carole King in Beautiful, she showcases her impressive voice with perhaps the "straightest" (You'll laugh if you've seen it) character in the show. Her Prince is played by Debbie Kurup - literally playing the 'Purple Rain' legend to brilliant effect.
Oscar Conlon-Morrey has been one of the saviours of the year with his constant hilarious posts and videos on social media. Being able to enjoy his incredible comic timing in person is a real treat after becoming such a fan over the year - the man oozes hilarity and whenever his character Vajaja is on stage, there's a guarantee something funny is about to happen. His sister Fanny is played by Nativity and Eugenius star Scott Paige. Bouncing off of Oscar's comic timing, Scott is equally hilarious and makes one strong half of a formidable and fabulous double act. One unexpected hilarious moment was Scott realising I was wearing the same shoes as him while he was on stage. That'll teach me for sitting in the front row!
Comedy legend Rufus Hound plays Buttons, a traditional panto character who regularly instructs the audience and encourages participation. However, this is an adult panto so everything is a bit more foul mouthed. Just wait til you find out what he wants you to shout back every time he says "Hi boys and girls". The cast is completed by Sean Parkins as the "Fairy Godmotherf*****". Appearing on stage with a "Poof", Sean channels his best Lola (even wearing a red dress) complete with Drag race references and general hilarity. Gathering together six amazing talents like this on such a small stage created something so unbelievably enjoyable, it proved just how viable they all really are.
The show was made for theatre fans with stagey references thrown in from start to finish. The references are always brilliant and range from the mainstream to the niche with jokes about The Prince of Egypt, Michael Xavier and of course the obligatory Cameron Mackintosh reference.Theatre fans have more to feast their ears on as songs from Hamilton, Waitress and Six are among those that get the panto treatment... with some lyric changes. There's even a bit of Cardi B... but I won't spoil where that is.
All the classic bits you'd expect in a panto are present - just all a bit ruder than you might find at the Palladium. After over an hour of laughs, the show ends on a surprisingly serious note with a scene about how important the Arts are and how we need to save them. With shows as good as this, it is a no-brainer why theatre is so important.
2020 has been a bit of a year for all of us - especially those who work in the creative industry and those who love it. The drought has been unbearable. Cinderella is the perfect antidote for this - acknowledging the challenges of the past year while sticking two fingers up to it. With a brilliant cast, hilarious material, this is the mot fun you can have in the theatre. If you only see one panto this year, make it this one.
Cinderella - A Socially Distanced Ball runs at the Turbine Theatre until Wednesday 23rd December. Tickets are available from theturbinetheatre.com