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Cinderella review at Octagon Theatre, Bolton – ‘charming and captivating’

Lucy Faint in Cinderella at Bolton Octagon. Photo: Richard Davenport
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Rats are usually cast as the repellent baddies at pantomime time. But the pack of rodents who inhabit Mike Kenny’s play for children are not only loveable goodies but also Cinders’ best mates, scurrying from behind the kitchen skirting board to tell their heroine’s drab-to-fab story.

In Ben Occhipinti’s deftly staged production, the design and costumes mix ‘n’ match a shabby chic look with a child-like dressing-up box energy. An ensemble cast bond instantly with the audience, while also playing Rob Hiley’s charming songs on a grand piano, an electric double bass, tubular bells, a big bass drum and even a vibraphone. Indeed, watching this motley crew constantly morphing between rat status and various characters while also making music and lugging instruments around the stage, adds joyful layers of fun to a seasonal piece which virtually transforms a stereotypical fairy tale into a family friendly kitchen sink drama.

Lucy Faint’s Cinderella is no lowly drudge dreaming of becoming a pretty-in-pink princess, but a down-to-earth young woman who finds love through her own efforts and a nudge from her ratty pals. And there’s some fantastic low-comedy clowning from Alicia McKenzie and Anne O’Riordan as horrid step-sisters in a production that fits the Octagon’s in-the-round space as neatly as any glass slipper.

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Verdict
Charming, captivating and deftly staged seasonal fare
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