Imagine, if you will, the Lord of the Rings movie.
Now, put the Hobbits in Georgian wigs.
With that in mind, dress a couple of trolls in drag, and picture the ending of the last movie. What you are left with, is a pretty good impression of last night’s performance of “Cinderella” at the Octogan theatre, Yeovil, which was to all intents and purposes, “Lord of the Rings”- with sparkles.
After two hours of booty shaking pyrotechnics, dodgy karaoke backing tracks, and a commendable performance by a cast faced with an audience of hyperactive children & largely unenthusiastic adults… we sat through another half hour of the poor buggers trying to say good-bye.
No wonder Ashely Oliver (Cinders) was looking considerably knackered by the final number. She could have run over Mordor and looked less exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a criticism, more an expression of empathy for an actress who had obviously had a very long night, at the end of an equally long week.
Generally the cast was strong, however hilarity particularly prevailed whenever the Ugly Sisters ‘Annie & Fannie Hardup’
(played by Simon Bashford & Robert Rawles); ‘Buttons’ played by the ‘cute-as-a’ Simon Burbage; and the delightfully camp ‘Dandini’ (Eddie Dredge) minced, bounded, or frolicked on stage, all working very hard to liven up a slightly withering Friday night audience with their superb comic timing & enthusiasm.
The visual and technical aspects of the production were equally spell-binding, and must have caused the back stage crew a great deal of strife, judging by the sheer number of explosions, scene changes, costume changes, prostheses… not to mention the live ponies who pulled Cinderella’s carriage to the ball (I was hoping against hope that they wouldn’t… you know, ‘relieve themselves’ on stage as they’d apparently done on previous nights). Visually, the performance was faultless: pink, sparkly castles; vulgar costumes of a spectrum of non-definable colours; and dark green spooky forests, seemed to emulate every child’s impression of a fairy-tale kingdom.
Despite the vivacity of the cast and the entertainment value of the visual spectacle, you couldn’t help but feel the production was just a bit too long, mainly due to some musical numbers which seemed superfluous to the story, and caused many of the children in the audience to temporarily lose interest. It was also unfortunate that (at times) these songs were played at such a high volume, as to render the actor’s singing inaudible.
Despite the sound issues, the production seemed to run smoothly, with all the items on the panto shopping list thrown with wild abandon into the metaphorical trolley.
Audience particpation, saucy jokes, not-so-saucy jokes, slapstick, mind boggling costumes, and a fairy-tale romance made this production the eptiome of the stereotypical pantomime. Octagon’s “Cinderella” was successful due to their expert use of the stereotype in conjuction with flair and orginality (improvisation, local references and topical humour were rife) and a strong cast, most of whom should be knighted for their commitment to a relatively drawn-out but none-the-less, highly enjoyable production.
“Cinderella” runs from 10th Dec- 1st January, at the Octagon Theatre, Yeovil.