Image credit: Geraint Lewis

Review: Cinderella at The Vaults

Kate Plummer

A suicidal dog, Tina Turner, and a pair of orthopaedic slippers: it’s panto, but not as you know it. 

 The classic Cinderella tale gets a refreshingly modern and wickedly adult reboot in this immersive production from Luke Barnes and Not Too Tame Productions. They’ve swapped the talking mice and giant pumpkins on a country estate for a proper old school British boozer, a magical/haunted pub slot machine, and two stepsisters who are a bit of a state. 
 
Cinderella is mourning the loss of her dad, landlord of a run-down but much-loved karaoke pub, especially as his loss has landed her as playing skivvy to her gold-digging stepmother and two stepsisters with party planning dreams. 
 
Lovable sidekick Buttons is now a depressed family pooch with a death wish after his owner’s passing, played with just the right dark comedic edge by Patrick Knowles, Jack Condon’s Prince Charming is a self-proclaimed ‘fuckboy’, whilst the traditional Fairy Godmother mantel is taken up by director Jimmy Fairhurst as Cinderella’s mate Mike: pub regular and karaoke king, fabulously bedecked in glittery slip dress and ready to help Cinders shine at the pub Christmas party. 
 
Jen McGinley has transformed the space at The Vaults into a working bar and karaoke night, with the bar running throughout the show to keep your Christmas drinking quota topped up.  As soon as you walk into the action, the cast’s high energy is instantly infectious and they’ve got the level of audience participation just right without entering the realm of cringeworthy. 
 
Despite traditionally being the villains, we have to admit the stepsisters were our favourites of the night. Louise Haggerty and Megan Pemberton had us in stitches as the not-downright-evil-just-incredibly-shallow Simone and Garfunkel, particularly with their knowledge of “disgustin!”meme culture (if you know, you know) and their turn on the karaoke had us dancing in our seats. 
 
However, despite harnessing the chaotic nature always present in classic panto, the show felt like it was trying to cram too much into just 90 minutes. The sudden swerves from seasonal silliness to more heartfelt messages felt a little at war with each other - Benny Hill gags were followed by monologues on grief or mental health without much time for the audience to catch its breath. 
 
The soundtrack to the evening was perfect for a festive night out, from the opening of the reworked Bohemian Rhapsody, through to the boys’ rendition of Dizzee Rascal’s Dance Wiv Me.
 
The final song - no spoilers! - felt a bit like the end of the work Christmas party, when you’re a few proseccos down and suddenly you’re best mates with everyone (even Dave from accounts who you’ve only met once). With the post-show option of showing off your own karaoke skills, this is the ideal festive mate-date. It’ll get you all feeling merry in more than one way and, unlike the traditional Cinderella, you’ll definitely feel like staying out after midnight. 
 
Cinderella runs until 12th January at The Vaults. Get your tickets here
 
 

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