The Turbine's Cinderella - The Socially Distanced Ball is this year's must see Adult Pantomime
“I found my first grey hair …… in a kebab!”
At the Turbine Theatre comes Cinderella the Socially Distanced Ball, another delightful production showing this theatre can turn their hand to different theatrical styles. I have developed very high expectations of Paul Taylor-Mills’s intimate theatre in the shadow of Battersea’s Power Station, now converted into designer living flats and some retail, restaurants and bars and Bear Gryll’s Gym. The Turbine’s ambition is to start shows that can transfer elsewhere, a kind of pump priming exercise for original theatre and musicals.
This is my first adult Pantomime of 2020, no children allowed, and the show opens with a fabulous Fairy Godmotherfucker (Sean Perkins) in full length red sequins and red satin elbow length gloves with so much shiny bling, she looks ready to go to the ball herself. The scene is set in Soho but without Baron Hardup, dropped from the cast due to the rule of six.
We soon meet Buttons (Rufus Hound) in sparkling, improvising, stand up form who has us all laughing with brilliant and original innuendo. So charming is Rufus Hound that he has schooled the whole audience to shout “Fuck the Tories!” on his every entrance. Cinderella is very pretty and cute, like a pink marshmallow, Daisy Wood-Davis in pale pink track suit but it is her fabulous sisters who almost steal the show from Rufus Hound.
Scott Paige with eyes as big as saucers and a saucy tongue is Fanny and her ugly sister is Vajayjay (Oscar Conlon-Morrey), both big girls with obvious assets. I am often bored by the coarse predictability of the Ugly Sisters but these two are a joy to watch. Paige and Conlon-Morrey are so much more than pantomime dames, they are both acting the full sexy drag artistes with witty banter to match. We find out that the sisters are both nymphomaniacs and sex with one of them is described as like “doing push ups over a man hole”.
Rufus Hound has a two metre measuring stick to ensure social distancing and completely ruins what is meant to be a romantic number by measuring from different angles. There are other references of course to the effects of covid on out of work theatre professionals.
In keeping with pantomime tradition of the Principal Girl, Debbie Kurup plays the Prince but she is unlike any principal girl I’ve ever seen. No thigh slapping and white tights here. She is the reincarnation of the Artist Formerly known as . . . . , as diminutive as he was and purple suited for “Purple Rain”. I loved Debbie Kurup’s accent for Prince, her painted on designer stubble, her acting and her deep register singing voice.
This doesn’t feel like a show on a shoestring but something much more lavish and the stars are West End actors. As well as sumptuous costumes, the sisters in last year’s inevitable animal print, there is exciting lighting using all the pinks, purples and blues. Video clips augment the story with us meeting Prince’s parents played by Paige and Conlon-Morrey. Lizzy Connelly’s direction is so good, you only think about the actors.
There are tributes to many other musicals, the Hamilton number “The Greatest Ball in the World” a take on “The Schuyler Sisters” and I absolutely loved the joyous finale, the tune from Six with new lyrics. All of these stars are singer/actors so the quality of the music is very high. If it weren’t for Covid we would all be up there dancing. Pray God they will be able to finish the run and London keeps out of Tier Three.
Cinderella: The Socially Distanced Ball
Written by Jodie Prenger and Neil Hurst
Directed by Lizzy Connolly
Director: Lizzy Connolly
Designer: David Shields
Running Time: One hour 15 minutes without an interval
Booking to 23rd December 2020
London SW11 8AB
Website: The Turbine Theatre
River bus or 452 bus from Sloane Square
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the Turbine Theatre
on 6th December 2020