Writer/Director: Kevin Fearon
Reviewer: John Roberts
The Royal Court has firmly become the place to go for the more adult and alternative fayre to the traditional pantomime. But if truth be told, while the cast have always been at the top of the game, the end results have always been a little hit and miss, for every Scouse of the Rising Sun you are delivered a Christmas gem, such as last year’s hilarious hit The Scouse Nativity, so it’s a shame that Scouse Cinderella should have the right ingredients but just can’t make the glass slipper fit correctly.
The cast as one would expect are giving their all, Michael Fletcher makes a genuinely sweet Buttons, Lindzi Germain is, as always loud and proud as evil stepmother Lillian Redrowding and Keddie Sutton is a hoot as Mayor Hardupson (a brilliant piss-take of Joe Anderson), Stephen Fletcher gets to ham things up as Peter Prince and Hayley Sheen is a bright wide eyed Cinderella. So where does it all seem to go so wrong?
Pantomime is often the laughing stock of the theatrical world, everyone thinks it’s the easy man’s game, when in fact, getting it to work takes skill and a lot of imagination, so in order to break the rules, you need to inherently know the rules, understand the principles behind the magic and deliver a script that is full of double entendre and cheeky one liners. Sadly Kevin Fearon’s production takes the “easy” route and often plays for the cheapest laugh and the lowest common denominator, which means that a lot of the time the production sits uncomfortably between wanting to genuinely care that it’s a pantomime and at other times wanting to be it’s cruder, ruder older sister but never truly delivering either.
When the correct chord is struck the team hit the bullseye, a brilliant take on the “Twelve Days of Christmas” routine is delivered pitch perfectly by Drew Schofield and Paul Duckworth As ugly stepsisters Brook and Choo, but an earlier scene involving making a cake pointless, if you are going to do a “slop scene”, make it a slop scene. The tighter and stronger second act brings the most laughs but even the acts biggest moment feels lifted from Mischief Theatre’s hits The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
Richard Foxton’s set sadly lacks the wow factor, especially after last year’s stunning set design, here things look sparse and rather cheap and that’s the overriding feeling one gets when leaving the theatre, that this is a Christmas production from the Royal Court that’s trying to make as much money as possible from as little as possible… perhaps next year should be Scrooge?
After giving us the stunning Scouse Nativity last year, Scouse Cinderella seems like a massive step backwards, which is a shame as one believes the audiences deserve a better show to watch and the cast deserve a better production to be in. Its a fun enough show to while away a few hours, but it isn’t going to set the world alight.
Runs until 19 Jan 2019 | Image: Zanton Media