Mark Fisher, in the Guardian, gives a favourable review of this pantomime. December 2020
Covid quips abound – and the Prince keeps his distance from Cinders – in Nottingham Playhouse’s colourful show
Recently I’ve lost my sense of taste and smell,” says David Albury’s Prince as he wonders through the woods with Jessica Lee’s Dandini. Clearly it’s not too soon for Covid jokes in Nottingham Playhouse’s traditional panto. John Elkington and Tom Hopcroft as the ugly sisters have already made fun of the socially distanced audience for being too smelly to sit together.
Their quips are true to the defiant spirit of a classy panto. Writer and director Adam Penford is not about to let the small matter of a pandemic stop the show from going on.
Yes, the actors are arranged across the stage at a regulation distance. Yes, the Prince never gets closer than a couple of metres from Gabrielle Brooks as a radiant Cinderella, taking pre-wedding chastity to a new level. And yes, cast restrictions mean Cinderella has neither mother nor father, making her more alone in the world than ever.
But none of this is of much consequence in a show that is colourful, abrasive and romantic. Sara Poyzer makes for an unusually brassy Fairy Godmother, half candyfloss, half fairground attraction as she calls out, “Ay-up me ducks,” before doubling as a suitably callous Baroness. She and the rest of the cast give lively renditions of a pop score that ranges from Abba to Shaggy, never dwelling on a whole song where a chorus will do.
It’s a shame the relationship between Cinderella and Tim Frater’s charming Buttons doesn’t work out – her affair with the Prince seems superficial in comparison – but Buttons doesn’t seem to mind and Cinderella, like Dandini, maintains a healthy independence right to the end. It makes for a lean and lovable show.
• Available online until 16 January.