Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • CINDERELLA • Lyric Hammersmith • 2003

Vintage Cinderella Christmas Montage Card

Vintage Cinderella Christmas Montage Card

by FirstNightDesign

The story of Cinderella had been told for hundreds of years before Charles Perrault wrote the version we know the best today, and it has gone through many changes from an early Chinese version through Egyptian and Italian versions and the Brothers Grimm to Roald Dahl’s more macabre retelling, so there is nothing unusual in the Lyric having made their own version. It has its roots in the traditional pantomime treatment but is shorn of moonlighting soap opera and sports stars and the line-up from the local dancing school. No writer is credited: it’s been ‘devised by the Company’. That can so often mean a lack of clear direction, but here they have kept it very simple, exploiting their own talents. They share their own obvious enjoyment with the audience who were lapping it up when I saw it. It was a preview and there were still a few rough edges. But slick timing and special effects are not what this production is about and its very lack of sophistication is part of its success. There are some terrible puns and ‘knock, knock’ jokes which all go down a treat.

With set and costumes by Anthony McIlwaine, this production is set in a rundown fairground where Cinderella and her family live in the helter-skelter. The ‘Spanish Amusement Park’ is owned by ‘Prince’ Pedro de Gonzago who goes hand-walking upside down to heaven having bequeathed the Park to his grandson, Pedro Gonzago II (Javier Marzan).

Shereen Patrice, as Cinderella, is only six months out of acting school and so charming she doesn’t need to act — but can and does. She plays well with Bob Goody’s Frank, the fairground repair man and ticket seller (this show’s equivalent to Buttons) who is everybody’s favourite uncle. Her beautiful mother, a tightrope walker, had a fatal fall. Her father, the living cannonball, then married Ludmila Bulochka, a Russian dancer and mother of the Ugly Sisters, before accidentally being fired straight up to the moon. He is can still be seen up there, in orbit, when cloud cover doesn’t intervene.

Di Sherlock’s Ludmila isn’t one of those Russian peasants who move around like Babushka dolls on wheels. Oh no, she essays a lively czardas and even a Dying Swan and if being reminded of Cinderella’s mother gets her in a temper, Sherlock makes her very likeable. Yes, she does exploit her stepdaughter but not that much, and she is so fed up with her ugly daughters, she certainly gains our sympathy. As for Hortense and Diaphanta Bulochka, Antonio Gil Martinez (who also doubles as the first Prince Pedro) and John Ramm are hilarious. Bewigged, berouged and bedecked they are very much men playing women, squabbling and breaking into fisticuffs — beautifully timed so that we know the blows don’t really land and we get a clear license to laugh. There’s no Fairy Godmother: Cinders’ ball gown is courtesy of Madame Zarastro, the figure in a broken penny-in-the-slot fortune-telling machine who needs a kick and a bang as well as a coin to make her work. Geoffrey Carey doubles her with Dandini, the Prince’s sidekick, who keeps reminding him he’s not a real prince and getting the word prince wrong more times than you can imagine.

I bet this is the first time you will have seen Prince Charming booed by the audience; that’s because instead of doing up the fair, he has development plans so that Cinders… but I mustn’t give everything away. However, I will reveal that Prince Pedro sings ‘Blue Christmas’ not ‘White Christmas’ and doesn’t have a very good voice, but then being choked-up probably does take the edge off your vocal chords, and he makes up with a good stab at a tap dance and even manages to bring a genuine tear to your eyes — theatre magic really at work.

I thought that younger children might have some difficulty with Carlos I and Ludmilla’s heavy accents but those I asked told me indignantly they didn’t. One quibble: since it is well established that the ball will actually be at the fairground and that Madame Zorasto has no need of ‘the pumpkin and rats stuff’ to provide the transport, why do we see a distant Cinders riding away on a sleigh? It doesn’t make a good first act curtain and I wouldn’t be surprised it’s been cut by the time you read this.

What did you say, children? Oh, yes — I haven’t mentioned Jeremy Bines as Monkey, long-tailed, fezed and with a banana in his mouth, playing the Hammond Organ. They gave him as big a round as all those up on stage — and they loved them all. There is no chorus, no big transformation scene or spectacular finale, no reference to television shows or politicians and no blue jokes. Instead, there is a real rapport with the audience, a load of laughs and a genuinely touching happy ending.

Howard Loxton © 2003

Originally published on R&V on 04-12-03


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Life with an Illness

*Tips and tricks on how to get through life when you have a chronic illness*

The poor side of life


For the Love of Art

Create, Explore, and Discover, Every Day.

Politics and Insights

Public interest issues, policy, equality, human rights, social science


Supporting the rich amateur theatre scene on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography - Blog

Images and stories of nature, science and conservation.

Sarah Ditum

Writing, etc.

The Müscleheaded Blog

"Nothing Exceeds Like Superfluous Jejunity "

Jots from a Small Apt.

Largely @ Liberty

Rethinking Life

Art and the philosophy of life

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Ina Vukic - Croatia: people, politics, history, economy, transition from communism to democracy

lynz real cooking

lynz real life

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

The home of writer Barney Hoskyns' books, poems, photos and more.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Left Handed Lottie

Drawing and painting on an ipad

Atelier 88

More than just rooms

The Sleeping Hare

Art by Lottie Nevin

Pacific Paratrooper

This site is Pacific War era information


The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Vegan Books For Children

books from Little Chicken, Honestly Books and Violet's Vegan Comics

Catherine Meyrick

Historical Fiction with a touch of Romance

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

My Life as an Artist (2)

Smile! You’re at the best site ever

Violet's Vegan Comics

Virtual Vegan Comics for Children

Two Rooms Plus Utilities

Written from the heart, this is the unadulterated truth of live with multiple chronic illnesses and being housebound. My life open for you to follow. Please join me


How current policy is little more than kicking the cat....

Matt's History Blog

Hopefully interesting snippets and thoughts

David Hencke

Westminster and Whitehall news investigations

Notes from the U.K.

Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.


August is archive month. Posts from the past

P.A. Moed

Creative Exploration in Words and Pictures


collage/mixed media artist

My Dad Is A Goldfish

Caring for a demented dad

Scope's Blog

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we'll be here.

Art Farm of a Country Woman

Painting My World with My Heart


Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

AT A GENTLE PACE - Bridget Whelan's lifestyle travel blog

for people who would try anything except whitewater rafting (probably)


My personal opinions about.......stuff (as if you care!)

A Teacher's Reflections

Thirty Years of Wonder

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

Celebrating 98 years on Broadway!

Pen and Pension

Immerse yourself in Georgian and Regency England

%d bloggers like this: