Londoners are extremely lucky in that there is an absolute plethora of shows to see in the capital. At any given point we can see ballet, opera, classical music, comedy, drama and even scantily clad ladies performing in a giant martini glass. So it is a rarity when you see a show that you enjoy so much that the next day you book tickets to see it again. Sleeping Trees’ three-man pantomime Cinderella and the Beanstalk is one of those shows.
In Theatre 503’s charmingly cute studio space, three-men (and their elf-like bewildered musician Mark Newnham) are left in a panic when then ’40 strong cast of fantastic actors’ they forgot to book fail to show up for the debut performance of a brand-new Panto. They therefore take on each and every role themselves; fairies, giants, princes et al.
Cinderella and the Beanstalk combines a set script with a fair amount of improvisation that gives the show an exciting and dangerous energy that the audience feeds off. We’re never quite sure where the show is heading next or what the cast will pull out of the bag which the littler members of the audience revel in. There’s just enough recognisable panto and popular culture references to root the show in traditional festive fayre, but it has the same attitude of Shrek which appeals to both adults and children. There are only a couple of moments when the show feels out of control, but I’m sure that this is something that will be ironed out over the run.
Simon A Well’s’ make-shift set is full of wooden crates which ‘costumes’ and ‘props’ stamped over which are used to fantastic effect during the frantic multi-roleing that takes place throughout the show. There are some ingenious props and costumes including a miniature Rumplestiltskin puppet that is downright naughty.
The mark of a good Panto is always whether there’s enough for both adults and children to enjoy. Too much adult content and the children get bored, too much for the children and adults feel like they’re watching cBeebies. Cinderella and the Beanstalk strikes the perfect balance with adults cheering along just as loud as the kids, however for little ones to really get the most out of this show they should have seen enough pantos to know what the cast are sending up. Fast paced, fun and frantically hilarious, Sleeping Tree’s Christmas show is just the ticket to have you smiling like a kid again!
Reviewed by Roz Carter
Cinderella and the Beanstalk is playing at Theatre 503 until 10 January 2015.