Cinderella and the Beanstalk at Theatre 503
Upon hearing the title, you may think that Cinderella and the Beanstalk is just another pantomime. Finding out that it is a three-man play, featuring dozens of characters, it becomes apparent that this is no ordinary performance and that the actors are taking on a considerable challenge. Written and performed by the Sleeping Trees, the show begins with John, Josh and James announcing the pantomime they have created and inviting the main characters to come on stage. Just as they do so, they realise that they have forgotten to hire any actors. They therefore take it upon themselves to fill the numerous roles, resulting in a frenetic, hilarious parade of some of the most popular pantomime characters.
Cinderella, the protagonist, attends the infamous ball where she meets Prince Charming. While she aspires to lead a life of leisure and idleness, she discovers that the sheltered prince is eager to build his own furniture and that he daydreams obsessively about DIY. As they fantasise about a future together, a string of bizarre events interrupts their interaction. An array of fairy tale characters see their storylines merge and their quests overlap, which brings about a relentless flow of comical situations. Apart from the actors’ commendable feat of continually changing role, the winning formula is that of presenting familiar characters and assigning them unexpected traits.
Witty and sharp, the show is a real hit with adults and teenagers, who are as delighted as the children and just as eager to cheer, shout and actively participate. The props and costumes play a significant part, as they clarify the shifts between roles and, in spite of the small performing space, the action moves fast and the pace is dynamic. Sitting in one corner and occasionally joining in the action, musician and composer Mark Newnham provides a first class soundtrack that adds without distracting. The key to the show’s success is the performers’ talent and their ability to deliver comedy in its most effective form, by measuring the timing, carefully controlling their facial expressions and playing off each other’s energy. Cinderella and the Beanstalk provides a great deal of laughter, but it can also be enjoyed for the sheer pleasure of admiring the performers’ skill and versatility.
Photo: Ian Kitt
Cinderella and the Beanstalk is on at Theatre 503 from 25th November 2015 until 2nd January 2016, for further information or to book visit here.