Theatre review: Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith

Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith, 18 November 2023 – 6 January 2024. Our 16 year old and her 2 guests, 16 and 5, all loved it: 4/5 stars. The Lyric always does a great panto, so just book every year, it’s bound to be a hit with the kids AND keep the adults amused.

Cinderella at Lyric hammersmith

The Characters and Acting

Cinders was a comic fusion of passive ‘Woe is Me’ archetypes  and feisty ‘I ain’t standing for this’ West London girl. She’s trapped, but she argues with the step-mum; she pays rent in her own home but she’s an entrepreneur. She also brings a cool psychoanalytical spin to the proceedings, deconstructing the personalities and their behaviours like a counsellor would. Cinders contrasted well with the hammy OTT emotionality all around her.

Any truly modern Cinderella wouldn’t need a fairy helper at all of course. Look at Meggin, who got herself on TV just to get seen. That’s the first mountain to climb for any prince-hunter. Then getting close enough to meet them needs some more serious strategising;  KM took a year off so she would be in Prince William’s year group.  It’s a full time job researching where they party, where they shop, who they’re attracted to, where they’re going next week and how to get access, especially when they’re surrounded by body guards and hangers-on. Hats off.

audiences at theatre

The Humour

Boasting a full spectrum of predictable Panto wit, there are also some original touches, including some gentle ribbing of the Royal Family and the Government: the Prince gets snapped by the Pap  sneaking out to explore the local yokels, he then works out who the Leak is, and Leak strides off to try his luck with David Cameron.

The Story

It’s pretty faithful, so the Prince, having perused a parade of perfectly fraightful princesses, starts longing to be Ordinary so he can just marry who he wants. He throws the Ball as an act of defiance, a desperate attempt to meet someone half-decent. What didn’t quite work was the flying gerbil and the wicked step mother’s inexplicable egg-splatting game show… However, the ending is refreshing: the doddery old priest refuses to marry them saying ‘This is too hasty a wedding even by fairytale standards!’ So after aforesaid priest has been shooed off, it ends on a kiss of hope.

The Costumes

Big,  loud, flamboyant, of course! The most outrageous of all were the wicked stepmother’s, who went for power suits, glittergowns and 1700’s court style (the riot-barrier dress). Meanwhile my daughter (16) thought Cinderella’s patchwork-to-ballgown transition wasn’t quite smooth enough.  The airy Fairy was loved by all, spouted poetry in fine voice, and her flouncy layered dress was the favourite costume of Siena (16). Emma (5) loved the Ugly Sister’s wedding dress best, and how she became nice and let Cinderella have the Prince after all. Costumes clearly a hit.

christmas tree at lyric hammersmith

The Singing, Dancing, Music and Lyrics

Cinders’ voice was slightly off key at the beginning, as if she hadn’t warmed it up quite enough, but finished off strong, belting out the climax notes, and her backing Ensemble was great.  I have to admit I can’t remember a single melody or lyric, but the overall effect was Oompapaaa! The audience joined in for the finale, ‘Glory Glory Hammersmith’, now a Lyric tradition, sung to When all the Saints. My final reservation, after the airborne hamster, was the overly-raunchy number, which involved too much pelvic thrusting…

 

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