Wednesday, 12 December 2018

REVIEW: Cinderella and the Beanstalk at Theatre 503

This Christmas, Theatre 503 and The Sleeping Trees present Cinderella and the Beanstalk as their pantomime. The show has an incredibly energetic start, as the four cast members realise they have ‘forgotten’ to hire actors, therefore, must take on the task on playing 43 characters between them. The storyline was genuinely exciting and combined a number of well-known fairy tales. In true panto tradition, there was a good balance of slapstick comedy, audience participation and a healthy dollop of over-acting, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. 

Mark Newnham’s music and lyrics were a great asset to the production; there are too many standout songs to acknowledge them all! Director Carla Kingham tackled the action and used the limited space effectively with the assistance of Daisy Blower’s creative set. Additionally, Ali Hunter’s lighting design blew me away and inspired me to change my perception of the limitation within black box spaces.

Being the only female panto in London is a lot of pressure, but the cast did not disappoint. Louise Beresford’s multi-rolling as Cinderella, as well as many other weird and wonderful characters, was a core part of the show and set the tone for its liveliness.Actor-musician Severine Howell-Meri impressively remained onstage for almost the entire show and showcased her range of vocal and instrumental talents, which added a unique touch to the production.Amanda Shodeko’s take on the ugly sisters was admirably repulsive, and her narcissistic, childish Prince Charming was particularly amusing.Anna Spearpoint stole the show with her hilarious range of accents and portrayal of the quirky, but heartbroken, Fairy Godmother, dopey talking cow and the evil Rumpelstiltskin (my personal favourite). The actors didn’t take themselves too seriously and can expertly to play an audience. 

Although the vocals weren’t consistently strong, the narrative of ‘covering’ for the actors meant this did not affect the overall quality. Perhaps if the show is produced to a bigger scale in coming years, further musical theatre training would be necessary. 

I am not normally a fan of the pantomime, but this show was enough to change my mind. It was fun, vibrant and well worth seeing. The cast and crew really gave it their all, not shying away from all the major clich├ęs and the improvisation that brought it to life. If anyone finds themselves in Battersea, I would highly recommend a trip to wonderfully festive hidden theatre above The Latchmere!

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Unreserved | Price of Ticket: £19
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