Jack Be Nimble and Panto Online have made an at-home panto for the second year running, written and co-directed by former Blue Peter favourite Peter Duncan.
This year the attention is on Cinderella – a tale we have seen tackled in a new West End musical and a television musical already in 2021. These were a slight disappointment to this reviewer, so what can Panto Online offer to raise the stakes?
This version from Duncan and his co-director Ian Talbot has more elements of the traditional: ugly sisters, Baron Hardup, Buttons, the Prince and his servants, the Fairy Godmother. The action is strong, the jokes awful, the ending intriguing, and the performances enthusiastic.
You get songs, slapstick, glass slippers, and ample opportunity to hiss, boo and point out ‘it’s behind you’. This is a modern Cinderella in a posh house where everyone is poor, where the deer dance and there is a Royal invasion in every backyard.
Where last year’s Jack had a friends and neighbours feel, this year’s panto boasts a larger budget and a few more locations. Many of the cast make a welcome return from 2020, while new additions fit in just fine – Lucy-Anne Quinlan makes a fine Cinders, Duncan and Adam Price make memorable grotesques (and particularly hideous when they spoil Cinderella’s chances of going to the ball), Talbot is a yokelish Hardup, and Henry Roadnight is a note-perfect Buttons.
With Sarah Moss as the sweet Fairy and Sam Ebenezer as a doltish Prince who makes good, and the good use of “a house in South West London” as primary location, this Cinderella may not quite attain the heights of last year – itself unusual as escape via digital panto was just the ticket – but I have no hesitation in awarding it a high five for the comic gold, the audience interaction, and the sheer fun factor.
I watched Panto Online’s Cinderella online, but you have the choice of watching at home or in one of numerous Cineworld screenings – for more information go here.