In a game of 2018 panto Bingo, Evolution’s crackingly good Cinderella at St Albans would be victorious in no time.
Quick-fire gags? All present and correct (“She said I couldn’t make a car out of spaghetti. I proved her wrong when I drove pasta”), with a brilliant turn from seasoned St Albans panto performer Bob Golding (who also directs) as Dandini, establishing a great comic double act with Ian Kirkby’s avuncular Baron Hardup.
References to Brexit and Trump? Tick and tick: Hugh O’Donnell and Aaron Alexander are delightfully grotesque as ugly sisters Donaldina and Melania in numerous garish outfits, including union jack dresses and, ingeniously at one point, even as McDonald’s burger and fries.
Flossing? Yep, the dance move of the moment is provided by Ben Faulks, a solidly sympathetic Buttons. The choreography is impressive throughout, with tightly orchestrated song-and-dance routines. As Cinders, Jemma Carlisle provides the best vocal performance, her note-perfect delivery adding to her appeal.
A 1990s pop star? Step forward S Club 7’s Rachel Stevens, who makes for a wholesome, if slightly bland, Fairy Godmother. But the magic-carriage effects are terrific: you’ll believe a pumpkin can fly.
House! This is a fantastic pantomime with everything that young children and their families will want, and then some. If panto is a child’s first experience of theatre, we can take heart: the cheering, riveted kids at St Albans will be back again and again.