Having seen all of Matthew Bourne's work apart from his re-working of this popular and well known classic, I was looking forward to it with relish. But, even though there are flourishes which remind you why this dane visonary is adored by audiences and critics alike, it's just not as poignant or wickedly funny as the rest of his back catalogue.
Transported to the Blitz in 1940, the stage is awash with cinematic nods and winks from Brief Encounter to A Matter of Life and Death. Lez Brotherston works his usual magic with a striking set design which shows life before and after the bombings. It really does breathe life into the production, as does Neil Austin's stunning lighting and Paul Groothuis' evocative sound effects.
Kerry Biggin is our heroine and she dances gracefully and conveys the awkwardness of Cinderella incredibly well. But due to the fact that the pace of the piece is quite slow and repetitious in terms of choreography, you never really have emotional attachment towards her. Sam Archer plays Harry the Pilot complete with stiff upper lip and strong hold, but again - he is underwritten.
This is problematic and not typical of Bourne's work, because if you recall his Swan Lake or Edward Scissorhands - you will recall feeling moved beyond words. But here, something is missing. There is some comedy and a few laughs are gained by the zany, dark world that Bourne has shaped for this famous character, but never enough.
Ultimately - there is a great deal to see here and to admire but you do walk away at the end feeling like you have just entered an expensive shop filled with shiny gifts, but you walk away empty handed as you realise you need none of them.