Cinderella Meets the Monsters - the Reviews are in.
You can read Mark Aspen's Review here
Review below by Julliet Hill who l was highly commended in our recent Student Review Writing competition.
Forget trick-or-treating or carving a pumpkin that might well turn into a tandem bicycle: the Teddington Theatre Company’s first ever Halloween pantomime was all we needed to blow our needlessly long and embellished stockings right off, maybe even winning us a handsome Count Dracula in the process!
It’s safe to say that director, Marc Batten, has outdone himself again in a spectacular production of Cinderella meets the Monsters. Set in eerie Transylvania, writer, Loz Keal, subverts every expectation of your traditional rags-to-ballgown romantic panto, treating us to a delightfully spooky take on the various characters. Now Cinders’ father is Dr Frank Enstein, Buttons has become a fluffy-tailed lab assistant called Igor and let’s not forget the iconic Fairy God Mummy (dressed as an Egyptian goddess - naturally).
This production wasn’t only a first in terms of season and genre, however. This year, Hampton Hill introduced a ‘Relaxed Performance’ for the first night, in order to create a more inclusive atmosphere for all audience members. At the beginning, Marc gave a brief talk to put us at ease, preparing us for any sudden flashes or bangs and introducing us to the ‘chill out space’ (a quiet area available at all times, for anyone who needed a break during the show). We were free to move around the auditorium and the lighting was only dimmed - instead of complete darkness - which was also rather helpful for anybody who happened to be taking notes to use later in a review!
Personally, I think it’s a wonderful idea and, in case you were wondering, it didn’t impact the enjoyment or quality of the show in any way. Of course, there was the usual excitement and plenty of interaction with the audience, who all seemed to respond well to the changes.
The script is also inclusive for all ages, with plenty of ‘ball’ jokes (as well as some more sophisticated adult humour), and a variety of music, ranging from a display of TikTok dances to a rendition of Rocky Horror’s Time Warp. The musical numbers were well choreographed and very entertaining, almost every character getting a solo. Sadly, I didn’t see Tracy Sorgiovanni perform as Cinderella but Esme-Alice Fraser, playing the alternate nights, has a superb voice and was a pleasure to listen to.
Thanks to an especially strong (and large) cast, the many characters, each with their own comedic quirks, were all given space to shine and laughter ensued after every performance. Special praise goes to David Hannigan and Juanita Al-Dahhan as Borisita and Trumper (see what they did there?) who were this show’s version of the ugly sisters; the idea being that they are results of Dr Frank Enstein’s experiments and composed of various, mismatching body parts. Obnoxious and repulsive, the hilarious duo really brought a spark to the already impressive quality of acting.
Finally, we must talk costumes, perhaps the main character of the whole production. The wardrobe team evidently went to town on the outfits, every one of them uniquely lively and ingenious. Just take Dandini for example, the Count’s loyal Aide de Camp: his bright green suit, complimented by a purple wig, really captured his flamboyant yet good-natured personality and lit up the stage with a pop of colour. Face paint also took on a large role, completing the looks of many characters, including Borisita (who was given a metallic gold complexion with stitching to illustrate her origins).
After the tremendous production that was Cinderella meets the Monsters, we can only hope that the pandemic will allow the team back on stage next year. Still, now we know, whatever the time of year, whether live or on a screen, we are sure to enjoy ourselves. Oh, yes we are!