Friday, 21 December 2018

REVIEW: Cinderella at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Cinderella – a charming fairytale and “the Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes” for British audiences everywhere. There is certainly a level of artistic licensing here which tweaks this classic tale for a 2018 audience, but the story fundamentally remains the same: After the death of her mother, Cinderella’s father remarries a woman who turns out to be truly wicked. Favouring her two daughters above her new step-daughter, she mistreats Cinderella as a maid and deprives her of the privileges her own daughters enjoy. Thankfully, all hope is not lost as Cinderella meets a handsome Prince, with the help of her Fairy Godmother, and (eventually) they live happily ever after. Hopefully this is not a spoiler to any of our readers! 

As Baroness Demonica Hardup (the wicked step-mother) is poster-boy Craig Revel-Horwood who relishes in milking every Strictly Come Dancing joke for all they’re worth, with even the producers chiming in and naming ‘her’ daughters Tess and Claudia! He also nods to his credit as Choreographer for ‘Sister Act’ with his own “fab-u-lous” version of “Fabulous Baby”. Revel Horwood is not a casting gimmick – he is a superb talent and earns his space on that stage with not only his dance ability but his terrific voice too. After heavily criticising Katie Price for her stint at Woking two years ago due to her dismal lip-syncing and effortless (not in a good way) acting, I was not only relieved but pleased to welcome Revel Horwood to this production. He was a true asset. I am however disappointed that in the souvenir brochure/programme, Sophie Isaacs is not even pictured on the cover despite being the titular role - it seems Mr Revel Horwood needed more space to showcase his insanely sparkly costume! 

“Though she be but little, she is fierce” – Miss Isaacs is a pocket-size dynamo as Cinderella presenting a perfectly endearing and warm portrayal of this much loved character. Phil Butler is our Buttons and his magnificent knack for magic is showcased well in this production, with a beautifully still moment accompanied by “Kiss From A Rose” between himself and our Princess. Oliver Savile is a brilliant statuesque Prince Charming winning over the audience with his fantastic performance, particularly his numbers from The Greatest Showman. Alongside Chris Jenkins as Dandini, the two were a great double-act and shared some great moments together. 

Barry Chuckle steals hearts from the get-go, offering us a wonderfully
compassionate performance as Baron Hardup, but similarly doesn’t take himself too seriously. He made all the adults and children laugh together – encompassing what panto is all about. 

The gimmicks are aplenty but so is the level of fun. What’s pantomime without a chaotic rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas?! Slapstick, lavish costumes, cheesy pop song covers, predictable jokes, filthy humour… That’s my kind of panto. 

A suitably naughty and charming pantomime for all ages to enjoy.

Review by Harriet Langdown

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: N23 Stalls | Price of Ticket: £34.50
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