Dec 5 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩    Pacey interaction

Inverleith St Serf’s Halls: Wed 3 – Sat 6 Dec 2014

Pacey in places and packed with audience participation, St Serf’s Players production of Cinderella ensures that its punters will have a great time of it.

Director Derek Ward sets the whole show off at a grand old lick. Charlie West is in particularly fine form as Buttons, working the audience well, as he stands up in support of the put-upon Cinders.

Sophie Williams (Cinderella) and Vickie Horn (Archie). Photo: Alistair Brown

Sophie Williams (Cinderella) and Vickie Horn (Archie). Photo: Alistair Brown

It is a light touch, too. He doesn’t force the involvement, but lets it rise out of the script. And he builds up an interesting sense of character, too, in his interaction with the various villagers around him in the songs.

Using Paul Reakes’ nicely complicated script, written for a cast of 15 named speaking parts, this soon moves away from the strict formula of the standard Cinders panto story. And Buttons is quickly sacked by Dorsay Larnach’s wicked stepmother, Baroness Beaujolais, leaving Cinderella to fend for herself.

Not that he will be going far – Reakes gives him a Prince to meet and other challenges to face – but his early exit serves to de-clutter Cinderella’s role. And Sophie Williams’ Cinderella is certainly one who will have no problem facing her own problems – if not exactly sorting them out.

First among those are, as is usual, her ugly stepsisters. Philip Wilson and Derek Ward keep the pace up as Mattie and Hattie. They work the audience well at the most basic level – although there are several layers of flirtation and more nuanced double-entendres they could explore if they so wished.

With such a large cast, it is important that the actors make the most of their lines while reigning back from hogging the stage. Andrew McLeod succeeds excellently on both fronts as Cinderella’s put-upon dad. His asides are given just enough weariness and sarcasm to resonate as well as amuse.

the real baddie of the piece

Alistair Brown is a cadaverous Duke of Verruca, the real baddie of the piece who has taken over the running of Pantomania after the death of the king. Prince Charming has been galavanting round the world and, when he returns, Verruca conspires to kidnap him and replace him with his dim nephew, Archie.

Verruca is key to the production’s success and while Brown makes him boo-able enough, he needs to get more fizz into the role. Notably in the scenes where he is responsible for longer expositions of the script which tend towards the one level.

His henchmen, Rona Arnott and Lynsey Spence as Nip and Tuck, have no problem with fizzing through the script. As comic villains they bring the necessary vitality to the stage. As does Vicki Horne who plays the nephew Archie as some kind of English minor-aristocratic yahoo. Her version of Get the Party Started, all top teeth and plum-in-the-mouth accent, is one of the evening’s standout scenes.

Of course there must be a love interest. Paula McLeod does a stirling job as Prince Charming – bopped on the head by naughty Verruca he loses his memory and falls in love with Cinderella while neither are aware of his rightful role. Although she never slaps her thigh in time-honoured fashion, McLeod does everything else expected of a Principal Boy.

There is real strength running right through the company. A couple of standout mentions going to dancers Sarah Rudden and Eilidh West. They bring character to their dances, but more importantly both have a real precision to their dance performances. Pam Robertson does a grand job keeping the tempo up from behind the piano.

The production does fall into the trap of allowing itself to go on for too long as it winds past its end. But on the whole this is a lively show which makes great use of its set-pieces and enjoys exploring a slightly different take on the Cinderella story.

Running time 2 hrs 40 mins.
Inverleith St Serf’s Halls, 1a Clark Road, Goldenacre, EH5 3BD
Wednesday 3 – Saturday 6 December 2014
Daily 7.30pm; Saturday matinee 2.30pm.
Details on the St Serf’s Players website:

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