The Vaults Theatre, Waterloo, London, 01/12/2019.
When anyone of a certain age hears the words “Adult Pantomime” it sends a shiver down their spine as they have flashbacks to adverts for horribly sexist Jim Davidson productions like Sinderella and Boobs In The Woods, the former of which is on youtube and if you can make it past the five minute mark then you need to be sectioned this very second. But while adult in tone, and with plenty of swearing, this pantomime by Luke Barnes and the Not Too Tame theatre group is fortunately nothing like Davidson’s crimes against culture.
Indeed it could be a family affair if it wasn’t for some of the language and the fact that a good few of the characters boast about their sex lives, oh, and that Buttons wasn’t suicidal and didn’t keep on trying to kill himself, young kids probably wouldn’t like that, especially as in this version he’s a dog. The fairy godmother is unconventional too in that he’s a gay guy called Fairy Mike who runs the karaoke night that the play revolves around, but otherwise like all other pantomimes it’s an upbeat and daft affair.
That said, this is quite a different, modern take on the story, with it set in a karaoke pub where the owner Dave has recently died, leaving his daughter Cinderella working in the pub. Alas it’s owned by her not quite evil but definitely twatty Step-mother, and her two daughters who fill the ugly sisters roles, not that they’re physically unattractive as in most pantomimes but boy are their souls all kinds of bleak.
The two sisters, Simone and Garfunkel, are hosting a Christmas party where the hope rich types will come along, and indeed Prince Charming does turn up though he’s that in name only (quite literally) and the slippers involved are those of his grandmother who passed away recently, but who before dying told him where he’d meet the love of his life. The only problem is that he’s a bit of a shit, so is our Cinders doomed to marry an idiotic bastard?
Uniquely the set is a functioning bar which the audience can walk up to at any point during the play and order a drink as the story carries on around them, and while plot wise it might not have a whole lot in common with the traditional pantomime tale the set up does, with plenty of audience interaction including some very silly dancing. It’s partially a jukebox musical too, though some of the songs have had their lyrics altered to fit the storyline, and the audience are encouraged to sing along as the words appear on two large screens.
It could so easily have been a disaster giving the hodge podge of traditional and modern elements found here, but it is an enormous amount of ridiculously entertaining fun. The cast are all game for a laugh and interact with the audience with aplomb, the script is packed with some very funny lines, the reworded songs will have you grinning from ear to ear, and as a whole it’s a rollicking ride for (almost) all of the family.