Cardiff’s New Theatre has marketed Cinderella as “the godmother of all pantomimes” and the creators of this year’s festive offering have gone for an unashamedly traditional take on the classic story. Cinderella (Teleri Hughes) is as sweet as any put-upon orphan (there’s no sign of Baron Hardup in this version), bullied by her deliciously grotesque ugly sisters – Cardiff panto stalwarts Mike Doyle and Ceri Dupree revelling in their bitchy roles as Claudia and Tess.
Proceedings are overseen by television presenter and stylist Gok Wan as the Fairy Gok-mother, who is a confident, immensely likeable presence, more than standing his ground amid the panto chaos.
Comedian Phil Butler steals the show as Buttons. His highlight is a seemingly chaotic, but actually very slick, lipsync battle, ably assisted by a corpsing Gok Wan who is clearly having the time of his life. Butler’s moments of stand-up are the right mix of groansome gags and original one-liners.
Although seasonal shows will always tick off the usual tropes, this show ramps panto levels up to 11. Gok Wan and the team wring as much as is possible from each well-worn tradition and the audience love every minute of it.