Cinderella review – a lovingly made dessert of a panto

Fine Time Fontayne and Simeon Truby make their first entrance as the Ugly Sisters wearing purple and orange. The colour clash is par for the course in a show seemingly powered by E-numbers, one where designer Celia Perkins never lets a turquoise go by without pairing it with a lurid pink. In place of hats, the sisters have wafers as if they’re a pair of upturned ice creams, colourful balls of confectionery cascading down their frocks. You couldn’t eat a whole one.

The sugar-rush design typifies Kevin Shaw’s production. This panto is a lovingly made dessert, its ingredients bright, bold and possibly bad for your teeth. It’s too good-natured not to enjoy, but almost entirely lacking in savoury notes.

Spirited song-and-dance routines … Shorelle Hepkin (Cinderella) and Chante Faucher (Prince Charming). Photograph: Darren Robinson Photography

In particular, the script by Fontayne and Shaw has a blink-and-you-miss-it economy that irons out the jeopardy. The reason Shorelle Hepkin’s Cinderella is forgiving of her sisters is supposedly her sweet temperament, but, early on, she has little to forgive them for. Likewise, there’s nothing at stake in the prince’s ball because nobody tells her about the midnight-pumpkin rule until her time is up. And, rather than the Ugly Sisters and their stepmother (an excellent Sue Devaney) accepting a punishment, they blandly promise to do better.

Although the spirited song-and-dance routines and he’s-behind-you participation keep the energy up, we could do with a clearer sense of who is guiding us through the story. After the fuzzy egalitarianism of a first half in which everyone has equal billing but nobody looks like the star, Richard J Fletcher’s Buttons takes the reins to march us through the community song. But by that time, it’s more about panto buzz than emotional range.

At Coliseum, Oldham, until 12 January.

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