Cinderella - Royal Lyceum (3 stars)

A fair enough comedy, but by Lyceum standards this panto lacks magic and fully-formed ideas

Cinderella - Royal Lyceum

Photo: Eamonn McGoldrick

Not many family Christmas shows begin with a girl scattering her mother’s ashes. The children behind me at the Lyceum’s seasonal offering, a little confused, gasped in wonder as Cinderella distributed the remains. They whispered, a little uncertainly, ‘Is it fairy dust?’ I suspect that might take some explaining later, but it’s not the only moment in this show where you expect magic and get confusion. The plot is convoluted, but its essence is the traditional Cinderella set-up transplanted to modern-day Paris. Cinderella (Julie Heatherill) idolises Prince Pierre, a garish reality TV star played with outrageous aplomb by Martin McCormick. Our wicked stepmother (Jayne McKenna) is some kind of man-eating devil witch, gaining all her power from men’s unrequited love.

It’s difficult to conclude that this show is meant for children, though the laughs are spot on, especially in every nuance of McCormick’s turn as the hideous Made in Chelsea-style Prince Pierre, complemented by Grant O’Rourke on high comic form as his weary butler. And even better are ugly sisters Colette and Camille (Nicola Roy and Jo Freer), a wonderful double act of trashy, fake-tan-encrusted teenagers, constantly squealing ‘totes obvs!’

But elsewhere characters are flat, with Gail Watson as Cinderella’s ghostly mother often literally left hanging, suspended on wires. It’s a missed opportunity, matching O’Rourke’s underdeveloped other role as Cinderella’s father. Lyceum Christmas shows are usually lush with rollicking plots and genuine warmth. Heatherill and Spencer Charles Noll (as the Buttons figure) are solely responsible for this production’s heart, but despite their efforts and some catchy musical gems, there’s a dearth of magic and a glut of half-formed ideas. As a comedy it’s all good fun, as you might expect from writer Johnny McKnight, but perhaps the Lyceum needed to invest a bit more sparkle in this one.

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat 29 Dec.


Johnny McKnight has written this new version of the the fairy tale for this year's Royal Lyceum Christmas show, promising a modern twist on the story with a good sprinkling of magic and slapstick to keep families happy.


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