The Charles Court Opera annual pantomime has become an Islington tradition. Artistic director and author John Savournin enjoys subverting classic stories and this year’s offering is no exception. Adapted from the Cinderella story, Buttons is the name of her beloved teddy bear, granted the gift of life so that he can declare his love for her.
Cinders’ mum Betty is in love with the local bobby, PC Pumpkin. Jennie Jacobs’ Prince Charming meanwhile is a serial killer intent on maintaining the spell that keeps him handsome.
The daffy plot is accompanied by some wonderful adaptations of popular songs, including a trippy transformation sequence performed to Bohemian Rhapsody and a cake-making scene set to Beyonce’s Single Ladies.
While the story features plenty of quirky twists including a Mafioso puppet fairy godfather and Savournin on form as a lewd and leering Betty, the script doesn’t have that same imaginative sparkle as some past offerings. There are also none of the usual flights of fancy in Louie Whitemore’s set design, though it at least accommodates Shelby Williams’ choreography. There is still plenty to enjoy here though, including cast regular Matt Kellett’s amiable Buttons and Jacobs’ scenery chewing interpretation of the most arrogant of pantomime princes.