THEATRE REVIEW: Cinderella ★★★
Friday 22nd November 2019 - Sunday 12th January 2020
The Vaults Theatre, London
A couple of years back it was Trainspotting, the theatrical event based off the 1996 movie, that captivated and entranced myself at The Vaults Theatre, opening my eyes to how far you could truly push the artform from out from your comfort zone. Not Too Lame’s interpretation of Cinderella, a tale told many times with a linear arc rehashed most notably in the form of pantomime, completely rips apart the rulebook again similar to the former production in the form of a purpose built bar in the middle of the staging, and where this raucous, sing-along mania takes place.
Admittedly, the narrative of this interpretation, co-written by Luke Barnes, takes more time than it should to really get to the crux of the atmosphere; filled with crude gags and mostly aimed at an audience in the need of a drink and a good time, Garfunkel (Megan Pemberton) and Simone (Louise Haggerty) embody their roles in turn as the equivalent of The Ugly Stepsisters to high esteem and accolade; it’s no lie to admit that their presence on stage is felt with adrenaline and the need to taunt with the audience, which at one point seemed to backfire in the most spectacular way as one member of the audience did their signature move, the worm, to an astounding reaction which nearly threw the performers. Both Pemberton and Haggerty exude their loud personas and comic timing in ways that will have them remembered for all the right reasons. Making up the third devilous mistress, Lizzie Hopley plays the feisty and rather vivacious Judy Garland, the Stepmother to Cinderella (Rosa Coduri), in a role that excels the trio in first class performances.
Elsewhere, though gifted with the titular character, Coduri is personally underwhelming in the role of Cinderella; whether it’s the norm to see our heroine coming in with sparkles and a hopeful outlook on life, Tame and Barnes adaptation has Coduri play the role in a rather capricious tone that feels deflated throughout the piece, making her scenes the most unbearable to watch, and evidently had the audience leaving for the lavatory during these bursts of stage time. What this cast do well with though is the idea of being an ensemble, along with the male counterparts in the form of Jack Condon (Prince Charming), Jimmy Fairhurst (Mike), and Patrick Knowles (Buttons) all bringing their own energy and degree of comic timing to the fold. Condon in particular is sensational as Charming, a character in which you love to hate at the beginning, as a self confessed sex addict, but one who turns a turns all whilst giving a performance which matches Pemberton and Haggerty.
Overall, though at times the tale lacks characterisation and substance, with karaoke shoe-horned in to provide what feels like dead space and air time, it’s no lie to congratulate this ensemble company in providing a fresh take on what is otherwise a sugar-coated fairytale, and turn it on it’s head to give a performance that pushes the boundaries of theatre.