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Cinderella review at Milton Keynes Theatre – ‘spectacularly unreconstructed’

Brian Conley and Lauren Hall in Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre Brian Conley and Lauren Hall in Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre
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This Qdos production of Cinderella strains to show you how big its budget is. Look how lavish and spangly the sets! An appearance by a cute pony and a horse! A flying pumpkin carriage! Video cameos from Ant and Dec!

It’s got the obligatory celeb casting too. Gok Wan plays the Fairy Gokmother (who sings one line of a song, reedily) alongside Brian Conley – fresh from being booted off the early rounds of Strictly – as Cinders’ smitten pal Buttons.

But underneath the glitz and glitter lurks something unpleasant. The camp villainy of the ugly sisters is soon side-lined by Conley’s obnoxious ubiquity and dated humour. “She’s gagging for it,” he says of an audience member. “She’s got a beard.” When Cinderella (a strong performance from Lauren Hall in a thanklessly insipid role) exclaims she’s “speechless” Conley quips that “you’ll make a perfect wife.” And so on. There are jokes about “mingers” on minimum wage and Gok’s “black bean sauce” breath.

Feminism has clearly passed the makers of this show by. Despite its lavish production values and the hard work of the cast, this is spectacularly unreconstructed fare with an ugly, chauvinist core.

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A talented ensemble is overshadowed by Brian Conley's hateful patter