REVIEW: Soho Cinders (Charring Cross Theatre) ★★★★
With the festive season racing toward us, faster than a toddler to an advent calendar, its right to assume there are some amongst us who would sooner rinse the last dregs of the summer sangria and mourn the sun whilst watching ‘I’m a Celeb’ than sit through a musical retelling of ‘Cinderella’. But fear not, Soho Cinders will have you dreaming of anything but pumpkins and sugar plums!
Playing at The Charring Cross Theatre, Stiles and Drewe’s (most recently the musical brains behind Cameron Macintosh’s ‘Mary Poppins’ & ‘Half a Sixpence’) satirical retelling of the classic fairytale shifts the action from Far Far Away and straight into the middle of current day Old Compton Street.
‘Robbie’ (Luke Bayer) is the hero of the story, working in his late mothers laundrette alongside best mate and hag ‘Velcro’ (Millie O’Connell). Together they dream of finding their own little slice of normal, but with a closet case boyfriend, who just happens to be high profile political figure, and his vulgar stepsisters threatening to take away the only thing he has left, it’s proving rather difficult.
Luke Bayer is charismatic and extremely likeable as the wide eyed protagonist. This matched with Millie O’Connell’s straight talking ‘Velcro’, the buttons of the piece for panto lovers, makes for a special chemistry that brings both joy and a melancholy as they both mourn for a life That’s barely begun.
Justin Williams’ dazzling, narrow street view set reflects the twists and turns of the Soho we’ve all been caught in at three in the morning. This was something taken into consideration with Adam Haigh’s blissful choreography. High energy and flexible, the space was truly utilised in every sense by a brilliant ensemble of all shapes and sizes. My biggest gripe would be that Will Keith’s direction could have taken as many risks as the choreography did, as it became a tad predictable at times.
The songs are a mix of high energy ‘t’ and ‘t’ numbers and sweet ballad duets, however the show stopping number of the evening must be afforded to the trashy and equally mean ‘Clodagh’ and ‘Dana’ (Michaela Stern and Natalie Harman), two vocal powerhouses poured into animal print spandex. Quick, witty, utterly vile and as the voiceover says – “They are sisters… They are ugly…” who are simply looking for their fifteen minutes of fame.
Set in a world of extreme political uncertainty, spin doctors, sex scandals (sound familiar?), Soho Cinders boasts its fair share of satire and social comment in its own grimy and glittery way. Grossly entertaining, this piece holds a naughty, grubby little diamanté’d middle nail up to the traditional Christmas show. If you loathe the tinsel and detest turkey, this one’s for you.
Reviewed by Jimmy Richards
Photo: Pamela Raith
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