Cinders the adult panto

Rating ***
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes

Star Inn, Guilford – 12th December 2013

Panto is always the same – men in drag, girls in fishnets and a lot of giggling children. Each night the innuendos get bigger, the audience gets more involved and the director stops watching. Us Brits love it!

Everyone knows the story of Cinderella: a young girl with a hard life meets a boy and they live happily ever after… despite his apparent foot fetish.

So an adult version of this panto (written by Chris Towndrow and directed by Emma Trow) seems like an interesting proposition – still the same idea, but something more filthy and (hopefully) shocking for those of us over 18. What secrets will be spilled and who will end up with who?

The ‘back room’ of the Star Inn is surprisingly roomy and the lack of set presents no problem for the small cast of eight who open with an uplifting version of ‘Welcome to our Panto’ (aka Welcome to the 60s from Hairspray).

Surprisingly, the script follows the standard Cinderella story, complete with Buttons’ unrequited love, audience participation and the appalling singsong in the woods, which is only there so the audience can shout ‘he’s behind you’.

The cast are good, particularly Helen Hart in the title role. Her performance of On My Own (complete with edited lyrics – e.g. pretending he’s inside me – that are hilarious) is beautiful and well-acted. Hilary Harwood is fantastic as the drunken fairy with a vendetta against Bonnie Langford and Carl Bradley is a convincing and loveable Baron.

The pantomime horse Ocean Macaroon (geddit? The audience didn’t…) is played by whichever cast members are not on stage and although this is quite funny at first, by the end it just seems quite sad.

It is an amusing show, as we all love a naughty fairy tale, but it is slightly disappointing. Maybe I’m too much of a romantic, but when Cinderella is sent to the ball – the magical transformation scene – the audience are asked to close their eyes whilst she gets changed behind a screen…

Billed as an adult panto, it should have been more outrageous – the audience laughed far more at the rude jokes than at the generic panto puns which just fall flat.

There is also far too much expected audience participation, as very few people boo or cheer and almost nobody joins in the sing song at the end. The cast are talented and it’s not a bad night out, but ultimately it’s just another pantomime.