Reviews

Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith Theatre – review

The beloved west London panto is back

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Tilly La Belle Yengo and Jodie Jacobs, © Manuel Harlan

The Lyric Hammersmith panto has rightly become a London institution (oh yes it has), and this year sees Vikki Stone return to script writing duties while Tonderai Munyevu, making his panto directing debut, takes the helm.

It reimagines Cinderella as a cool young hipster who raises rent for her wicked stepmother, Lady Jelly-Bottom, by selling clothes for rodents at Shepherd’s Bush Market (it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine this stall might exist). But a chance meeting with the local Prince, who’s so desperate to be normal he’s disguised himself as a bush, promises to change her life forever.

Munyevu’s production, slickly designed by Good Teeth, is studded with pop bangers, from Cat Burns and Taylor Swift to Pulp and Cher, which are delivered with amplified gusto by the nine-strong cast and on-stage band. There’s some lively choreographic work from Arielle Smith and the musical numbers, particularly a first act-closing rendition of “Walking in Hammersmith”, sung by Cinderella atop a giant gerbil (yes really), hit the high notes in every sense.

Elsewhere, the show can feel a bit thin. All the component parts are there – there’s a nod to a slop routine, a glimpse of a pantomime cow, a brief bit of word-play – but nothing that constitutes a real ‘wow’ moment. Stone’s script contains a handful of topical gags poking fun at the likes of Penny Mordaunt, David Cameron and RAAC concrete, but it does feel on the tame side, short on knock-out gags.

But that’s to take nothing away from the performances, especially Tilly La Belle Yengo who makes an assured panto debut in the title role, and Emmanuel Akwafo’s buxom, twerking Dame Jelly-Bottom, who at one point invites an audience member to crack an egg on her derriere. There’s also fine support from Charlie Cameron and Meghan Treadway as the sloane ranger stepsisters, Damien James as the naive prince, and Jodie Jacobs doubling as the Fairy and leaky royal courtier Minty.

It’s all very warm-hearted and there’s plenty for younger spectators to enjoy, topped off by a sweet moment of audience participation during the climactic singalong (though no actual sweets are thrown – bah humbug). But considering the high bar that’s been set at the address over the years, it could do with a little extra magic fairy dust.

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Cinderella

Closed: 06 January 2024