BWW Review: CINDERELLA, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Cinderella must be the most performed of all the pantomimes in the UK, and is probably the most well-loved.
Experienced writer for Imagine Theatre, Iain Lauchlan returns once again to write, direct and star in the show in Coventry - this year as Ugly Sister Dyspepsia. Also in similar fashion to previous years, Mark Walters brings his glitzy set and costume design to the Belgrade Main House.
Packed full of traditional family panto material, Lauchlan and the cast succeed in delivering humorous material suited to children and adults alike. There is consistently a memorable slosh routine (this year including a shaving/waxing and tanning sequence!) and the expected ghost gag.
There's also a mixture of original compositions and recognisable musical numbers, including a remixed version of Ed SHeeran's "Shape of You", which will be stuck in your head for the foreseeable! The new song devised for the end of Act One during the transformation doesn't quite match up to the magical visuals; it needs to be bigger, as the scene's climax is truly breathtaking.
Lauchlan's script contains all the necessary plot threads, even if it is The Ugly Sisters and Buttons Show really. The book moves at a good pace, though there are certain scenes that have overly long stretches of dialogue and it's evident that the attention of the children in the audience wanes a little during these moments.
There are also a couple of clunky scene changes that merely plunge the stage into darkness for longer periods of time than necessary. There may be a reason for this, but it felt like a cloth could have been flown in to make the transitions smoother.
Greg Powrie plays Lauchlan's counterpart Listeria and is equally matched in his energy. Likewise, regular Belgrade performer Craig Hollingsworth as Buttons is quirky and creates an incredible rapport with the audience from the outset.
Alice Rose Fletcher makes a beautiful Cinderella, who could have been used more, as could Prince Charming (Bethany Brookes). Although I'm not 100% convinced on Brookes' casting, more content could have exposed her stronger points. The ensemble and child cast complement the principals and the fuller scenes are directed well.
Almost as sparkly as the set, and with just a few small tweaks, would be perfect.
Cinderella plays at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until 13 January 2018.