Review: The Oxford Playhouse's pantomime Cinderella, written by Anna Nicholson and Bobby Goulder, and directed by Toby Hulse. From 4 Dec - 8 Jan 2023. Tickets from £15. Book here.
[Disclosure: Our young reviewer received free tickets, a free programme and free icecreams for the purposes of this review.]
It’s panto season! I think the Oxford Playhouse has brought us the best panto yet with its super fun adaptation of Cinderella. The Oxford Playhouse panto is always such a brilliant way to bring on the festive spirit. I know lots of people love to go to panto at Christmas time, but going earlier makes the magic start sooner!
As always, the Oxford Playhouse panto is full of catchy tunes, fun dance routines, and hilarious and terrible jokes – clean ones for the children and very, very naughty ones for the adults.
There’re glittery sparkles, bubbles, sweets thrown into the audience, the obligatory water fight and an utterly diabolical villain. It’s great fun!
The story of Cinderella has been updated – with the “Widow Twanky” part being split into two – the ugly step sisters – Belly and Smelly – brilliantly and hilariously played by Alasdair Buchan and Roddy Peters.
Belly and Smelly pretty much steal the show with their over the top antics and their smutty jokes. It was so much fun to watch them hassle an audience member with very naughty jokes about their profession (a lawyer).
Prince Charming is a slightly hopeless posh boy who has finished boarding school and come home to find that the caretaker ruler, the evil Dandina, played by Alice Marshall, has ground the fun from his kingdom by taxing singing. Dandina hatches an evil plan to marry Prince Charming and rule the kingdom forever!
The only problem I could see is that Dandina is so gorgeous and driven, I felt Prince Charming would be pretty lucky to marry someone like her. In any event, Cinderella saves the day, marries the Prince (though she is too good for him) and everyone lives happily ever after.
There’s lots of opportunity to boo, hiss, sing along and shout, “He’s behind you!” The live band accompanying the performers was truly brilliant – and set the fun, celebratory atmosphere straight away.
Every second of this panto, something grabs your attention – whether it’s a funny joke, an interactive element or some incredible dancing and singing. So much work has gone into bringing all these elements together to run without a hitch – the director, Toby Hulse and stage managers Zachary Holton, Pippa Kay and Tanya Jackson deserve huge kudos.
This year, panto really is the start of the festive season!
Safe guarding procedures were in place for our young reviewer throughout the review process, including a chaperone during the show.
Feature illustration by Korky Paul. All photographs by Geraint Lewis.
If you enjoyed reading this review, you may also enjoy reading the other reviews and interviews written by our young reviewer. You can find them here.