Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Great Panto Review: Cinderella at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester

The tickets for Cinderella were kindly provided by The Mercury Theatre Colchester as part of Have A Lovely Time's 'Great Panto Review 2009,  in aid of The National Alliance of Children's Cancer Parent Organisations (NACCPO), a charity that helps provide respite and support for families with children with cancer. I donated to the charity  in lieu of paying for the tickets.

Speeding along the A12 at a break neck speed to Colchester in time to catch The Mercury Theatre Production of Cinderella on Monday I heard a quavering voice from eh darkest depths of the back seat:
Him: Mum mum where are we going?
Me: To the Pantomime darling.
Him: What’s a Patantonine?
Me: A play on stage sweetheart.
Him after a very long pause as he clearly digested this piece of information: Why are we going to play? Why can’t we stay at home? I want to go home!
This didn’t bode well and I was momentarily stumped in my explanations as we careered off into Colchester and the act of driving safely superseded any attempts by me to head off an almighty strop courtesy of my youngest.
My eldest took up the baton, clearly relishing in his superior knowledge of these things: You’re going to really like it Bog Boy
Bog Boy: On no I won’t
The Boy: Oh yes you will
Bog Boy even more defiantly: Oh no I won’t!
I could see that the evening ahead could be interesting and I had visions of having to view the whole pantomime from outside the auditorium as I tried to placate an errant three year old for the duration
I need not have worried from the moment the lights dimmed and a translucent Fairy Godmother descended the stairs my littlest was transfixed.
Clearly aimed at the younger members of the audience this Cinderella performance written and direct by Janice Dunn is a belter of show jam packed with songs, jokes and so many double entendres that my sides ached. I particularly liked Dame Spatula’s homage to Bjork’s infamous Swan Dress!
Oh I do love a good old fashioned panto me, been a principal boy in me time and then bizarrely landed up a Dame – not quite sure how that translated but is was seriously good fun and that’s exactly what makes a great panto – it’s got to be fun.
In fact I often wonder whether it is the cast or the audience that gets the most out of a show – clearly in Colchester there was a lot mutual appreciation going on not least from my two boys, who went from being shy retiring little angels to Button’s worst nightmare before you could say: “Fairy Godmother!”
Just as a taster this Cinderella is set in a mountain top ski resort with Baron Hardup trying to make a go of things with the ancestral home as a deluxe hotel but failing due burdensome taxes. Ella, his beautiful daughter gamely helps keep it running despite possibly the worst step sisters in the world and a dipsomaniac ex-show girl of a step mother in Dame Spatula.

The Ugly sisters, Ratula and Flatula revel in being truly awful encouraging all the boos and hisses they can, they are a pair of Hogarthian grotesques and you definitely wouldn’t want to meet them on a dark night or in the daylight as a matter of fact. But the Boys loved it as only children can, it’s the thrill of witnessing something horrid and watching it being cut down to size that makes you feel safe for by the end Bog Boy crawled out of my lap and was shouting and a yelling and a booing and a hissing with the best of them. What a sense of empowerment!

Buttons was possibly the best, the kids adored him bouncing up and down in their seats with glee every time he got one over on the Uglies and they felt for him too when he realised Ella would never be his. His sheer energy and sense of fun shone through and made the two and a half hour show wiz by.
It is a great show and if this is the standard set then I am booking for next years’ show right now!
Tickets for Cinderella, priced from £9.75 to £19 (£8.00 for children at “A” performances), are available from the Box Office by phoning 01206 573948 or can be booked on-line at
Sign Language Interpreted: Tue 5 Jan 8:00pm
Audio Description: Sat 9 Jan 2:30pm
Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate, Colchester CO1 1PT
Tel: 01206 573948 Fax: 01206 769607Box Office opening hours Mon – Sat 10.00am – 8.00pm (Sun from 90 mins before a performance)

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LittleBrownDog said...

Oooh, it sounds lovely, Tattie (Oh, yes it does!) I love a good panto, too, and Cinderella has to be one of my top faves - I just hate it when they try to modern it up too much, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional stories, and you're right, kids usually love them too.

My only gripe is what an expensive afternoon out it all too often tends to be (although I have to say, the ticket prices for this one don't sound too bad at all) - however it is live entertainment and people's livelihoods and all.

New Mummy said...

I'm so glad you liked it, my sister works at the theatre so will be ever so happy with the review x

Go on you know you want to...


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