Soho Cinders at Charing Cross Theatre
With bubbly music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, Soho Cinders at Charing Cross Theatre reworks the classic Cinderella story. This updated revival of the tale shines a light on the seemingly futile quest for true love against the backdrop of our messy political times.
Robbie is down on his luck in Crompton Street. He can’t pay rent and his recently deceased mother’s laundrette is being taken from him by his decidedly awful stepsisters. As his mother’s will was never written, he has nothing and no one in the world aside from his best friend Velcro, secret lover and mayoral candidate, James Prince, and his sugar daddy/not-so-fairy godmother, Lord Bellingham. It’s a complicated modern love story, to say the least. Although it has certainly been reworked in a similar way before, the joyful music makes for a fun night.
The musical has a satirical tone which mostly hits its marks. The voiceover sounds reminiscent of a Big Brother presenter. The jokes use pop culture to get the audience in on the punchlines. Yet, ultimately the script isn’t as modern as it purports to be, and the fabulous singing-and-dancing cast is let down by roles that seem stereotypical and unoriginal. Stepsisters Clodagh (Michaela Stern) and Dana (Natalie Harman) stagger around the stage in a caricatured portrayal of working-class fame-grabbers. Nonetheless, their boisterous voices deliver cracking one-liners, and they are given a platform to share their incredible vocal range. The second comic relief is William George, the spin doctor for the mayor, whose lines recall the sharp-edged and insult-driven dialogue of The Thick of It.
Soho Cinders is set in a familiar world of political spin, where the optimistic candidate is forced to face his truth, and it touches base with a lot of modern woes. For a tale trying to shed light on exclusion, though, it is overwhelmingly white and lacks meaningful intersectionality. Like any fairy tale, Soho Cinders is tied up with a big, beautiful bow, concealing some of its loose threads, but maybe that’s just what audiences are craving. It’s a well-meaning play brimming with hopeful kindness and soundtracked by infectious music. It makes for a fun evening.
Photos: Pamela Raith
Soho Cinders is at Charing Cross Theatre from 24th October until 21st December 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.