Cinderella and the Beanstalk review at Theatre503, London – ‘screwball energy’
Cinderella and Prince Charming have bonded over a shared passion for DIY and bathroom sealant, Rumpelstiltskin is on the rampage and the Fairy Godmother is pining for her lost love Jack, who’s up the beanstalk with a pregnant cow.
Originally devised and performed by the all-male Sleeping Trees, Cinderella and the Beanstalk has been revived with a female cast of four. This quartet conjure up a madcap and scrappy panto universe on a shoestring, refreshingly free of fading celebs, crusty jokes and spangly frocks. It’s heartening (especially for a junior audience) to see a group of young women causing comic mayhem on stage with scant regard for the role of ingenue or siren. All are agile performers, each playing a bevy of characters, often in same scene.
Anna Spearpoint displays brilliantly malleable facial expressions and talent for accents as a Geordie Fairy Godmother in a fuzzy gilet, a Somerset cow (denoted by a bum-bag with udders), a Brummie gnome and Macedonian Rumpelstiltskin, while Amanda Shodeko gives full-on grotesquery as both ugly sisters (one is particularly slobbery) and the gormless prince.
Louise Beresford deftly fields heckles from the more precocious audience members as Cinders, while also appearing as a swaggering genie with a pint and tinsel-bearded Merlin, who sings a genuinely catchy funk song about magic beans.
Meanwhile, musician Severine Howell-Meri provides strong support with guitar, keyboard, slide whistle and a Santa costume. The cast keep up the frantic energy throughout, only slowing the pace for a cheerful song about friendship.