Not Too Tame’s touring, immersive adaptation of Cinderella is a godsend for the less pantomime-inclined theatregoer.
Written by Luke Barnes, and put together by Not Too Tame’s artistic director Jimmy Fairhurst, it’s basically a reworked, jukebox version of the classic fairytale, performed as a raucous night at the pub, bookended by an enormous karaoke session.
The conceit actually works really well. Over an two hours or so, the seven-strong cast race through Barnes’ modern-day telling of the familiar story, running through the audience, frequently stopping to flirt with them, to steal a sip of their pints, or just to chat to them. Every so often, everything stops for a big singalong. The bar, smartly, remains open throughout the performance.
They do it with infectious energy, too. Gemma Barnett has a downtrodden earnestness as Cinderella. Alex Griffin-Griffiths is really funny as Buttons, her soulful, suicidal, extremely Welsh dog. And Jack Brown, crammed into a sequined silver dress, marshals proceedings with unflagging enthusiasm as Mike the Fairy – Cinderella’s loveable fairy godmother.
It’s not Barnes’ best work, but it’s hard to think of a show that aligns more aptly with his raucous, heartfelt writing. The plotting is a bit messy, and the structure is a bit ragged, but when he gets the whole audience on their feet at the neatly subversive conclusion, belting out The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York, it’s difficult not feel fuzzily festive.