9 January 2015

Cinderella and the Beanstalk at Theatre503 was fun all the way

It occurred to me when booking to see Cinderella and the Beanstalk at Theatre503 that almost everything that I had seen at Theatre503 so far had been dark, grim or bleak. There were comedies among them but nothing that was light or jolly. Obviously this Christmas show was going to be different.

The first part of my plan worked well and I managed to be in London that day but the plan fell apart slightly thanks to road works in Battersea. I was forced to abandon my bus and walk the last kilometre or so which got me there in good time for the show but too late to eat in The Latchmere. That was no great problem and I simply resorted to the old favourites of a beer and some dry roasted peanuts.

Peanuts consumed I took my beer with me up the tricky stairs to the box office to collect my ticket and to bag a seat in the waiting area near the entrance to the theatre ready to claim my usual seat in the middle of the front row.

I was not used to seeing pantomimes, or any other sort of outright jolly show, and I settled down a little warily. My trepidations seemed founded when the three-man team came up with the lamest of excuses for why there was not a vast cast to play the many roles. I should not have worried, that was the only weak spot in the show and it was quickly forgiven.

The story was a delightful mash-up of, not surprisingly, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk with a large dollop of Rumpelstiltskin and a host of other references and characters.

The small cast added a lot to the fun and in one memorable scene the man playing both of the ugly sisters staged a conversation between them and Prince Charming, who he was also playing.

The story and the presentation was pure pantomime but aged just a little for the mostly twenty-something audience. There was plenty of audience interaction and I may have shouted "Behind You!" a few times.

The script was original and I noted the line, "Love is a Wicks brochure", as a good example of this. This was Benidorm humour, and that is a good thing.

After a few setbacks there was a happy ending but it was not as happy as the audience. We giggled, chortled and laughed all the way through a thoroughly entertaining show delivered with panache and a good understanding of both the medium and what audiences want.

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