REVIEW: Full of witty one-liners and hilarious characters, Cinderella is the Cambridge Arts Theatre's best Christmas pantomime yet
PUBLISHED: 11:42 04 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 04 December 2019
The Cambridge Arts Theatre's Christmas pantomimes keep getting better every year - so it's no surprise this production of Cinderella is their best - and funniest - yet.
A perfect combination of witty jabs at the year that's thankfully almost over and silly slapstick humour (the obligatory slipping and sliding scene is hilarious) will have you laughing out loud and dancing in your seat the whole way through.
"It's all very political this year, isn't it?" jokes hopeless romantic Buttons (played by Isaac Stanmore) teasing a well-written and timely script that's full of wisecracks about Brexit and Boris and takes aim at Joseph-Rees Mogg (who gets compared to a ghoulish skeleton) and even Prince Andrew.
In keeping with one of the biggest issues of our time, the panto even takes a stance on climate change - as Cinderella (Charlotte Kennedy in fine voice) joins a protest through the forest (complete with 'I Love Greta' signs).
Then there's the jokes about Cambridge life too, whether that's the property development at Eddington or the annoyance of a cyclist travelling up Hill's Road without wearing a helmet.
What follows is a timely take on the traditional fairytale story where near enough every line gets a belly laugh. It's not all PG though; some of the ruder remarks will have the parents and grandparents in the audience in stitches.
The dance routines, meanwhile, are well-choreographed and the songs are total pop cheese - from Take That to Bruno Mars: but that's exactly what you want from a feel-good family pantomime with a love story at its heart.
The real stars of the show are the Ugly Sisters Melania and Ivanka (brilliant), played effortlessly by actor and dancer Wayne Sleep and Matt Crosby, who is a panto dame veteran in Cambridge.
Together they make the perfect villainous duo - their charisma is so effortless that they deserve their own spin-off show; we're first introduced to them as they lead a Zumba class while one wears a rather unflattering fat suit.
Without giving too much away, their elaborate costumes become increasingly flamboyant: as they go from looking like a purposefully trashy mix of Vicky Pollard from Little Britain and Katie Price whilst out shopping on the high street to wearing elaborate, glitzy gowns at the ball - it's all very tongue in cheek.
And of course, as he did in last year's Aladdin, Wayne Sleep gets his own time to shine in the spotlight with an impressive tap dance routine.
Then there's Buttons who, full of energy and bad jokes, has everyone signing along in their seats and waving their arms in the air: the youngsters in the audience love him.
Meanwhile, Kevin Kennedy (best known for playing Curly Watts on ITV's Coronation Street for 20 years) is great as failed inventor Baron Hardup, who likes a glass or two of wine and desperately wants to be cool and down with the kids but his dad jokes are endearingly awful.
Another CAT panto favourite, Liza Goddard, shines as the elegant and enchanting Fairy Godmother, who makes dreams come true: the truly magical finale at the end of the first act will leave your eyes wide open and your jaws on the floor.
It's something you'd expect to see in a West End show; in fact, the entire production proves just how lucky Cambridge panto-lovers are.
For performance dates, times and tickets visit www.cambridgeartstheatre.com/whats-on/cinderella