Tag Archives: Rebecca Trehearn

Cinderella

★★★★★

Gillian Lynne Theatre

 

Cinderella

Gillian Lynne Theatre

Reviewed – 25th August 2021

★★★★★

 

“It was a long time coming but it’s a ball”

 

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cinderella” has been under close scrutiny for some time now. This is in part due to Webber’s vocal stance against the government’s alleged failure to support the Arts during the pandemic. “The government’s actions are forcing theatre and music companies off a cliff as the summer wears on…” he is quoted as saying while rejecting the government’s invitation for “Cinderella” to be singled out as a last-minute part of the Events Research Program. Finally due to open on July 19th, the so-called ‘Freedom Day’, it ran a series of previews before the theatre went dark again for another month. So, long before Cinderella managed to get to the ball, the spotlight was on her every glass-slippered step. It has been a perilous journey, weighed down further by the show unwittingly becoming a litmus test for the recovery of the West End.

Eventually, though, the fairy tale dream comes true. And, in short, it is a true dream. Emerald Fennell’s book turns our concept of the Cinderella myth on its head. For a start Prince Charming has gone awol, presumed dead, and left in his place is the younger brother; Prince Sebastian – as much of a misfit as Cinderella herself. We are in Belleville, the most fairy-tale town that never existed. Carrie Hope Fletcher’s Cinderella is a ragged, rebel Goth in black lipstick. Only when in her company can Sebastian shake off his Royal mantle and truly be himself. To his dismay (and Cinderella’s unspoken concern) his mother has decided to arrange a Royal Wedding for him, purely to boost the town’s reputation. But his heart is set on Cinderella. It is not so much a will-they-won’t-they story, as we kind of know they will in the end. But that doesn’t matter – the story delivers more delightful twists on the way before the final corkscrew that pops the cork, and we can all bathe in the bubbles of joy that wash over us.

It’s a crazy makeover for the familiar story, adorned with David Zippel’s sparkling lyrics and, of course, a score that is well and truly back on form. Filled with a range of emotions and styles it swoons with strings and dips into ballads, taking many other genres under its wing. Leitmotifs and reprises float like feathers which, though intricate, are easily within our grasp and before we know it, we have made them our own. The eyes have as much of a feast as the ears. Gabriela Tylesova’s design, Bruno Poet’s lighting, with JoAnn M. Hunter’s choreography and director Laurence Conner’s staging thrust the show into the sovereign state of spectacle. And although the title suggests an out of season pantomime, this is far from it. The stunning leading cast, whilst enjoying the caricatures written for them, shape them into fully formed, loveable characters. The baddies and goodies alike.

The ugly sisters are beautiful. But marvellously dippy. Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin play the comedy of the sibling rivalry to perfection. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt’s star turn as the stepmother accentuates the 1980s slang meaning of ‘wicked’. Insanely wonderful and cool she needs no spotlight to let her presence shine across the stage. Rebecca Trehearn’s Queen ransacks the ‘Blackadder’ archives but with so much more nuance and light and shade. Hamilton-Barritt and Trehearn make a dynamic duo, particularly during their show-stopping highlight number, ‘I Know You’ that reveals their seedy pasts in Paris.

The central pair, of course, is Cinderella and Prince Sebastian. Hope Fletcher’s gorgeous, soaring vocals reach the heightened emotions, yet she can slip into character in a beat. The star player, her generosity never pulls focus from her co actors. Sebastian was played sublimely, for this particular performance, by understudy Michael Hamway. His solo show stealing, heart stopping ‘Only You, Lonely You’ drew possibly the longest ovation of the evening. Watch out for the name!

Andrew Lloyd Webber has had his detractors and has often had to weather the storms of his risk taking. Rewriting such a beloved tale such as “Cinderella” is another risk. But boy – it has paid off! It was a long time coming but it’s a ball. Everyone is invited – and everyone should go to it. I’d say be quick about it, but there’s a feeling that this show will be around for quite some time.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Tristram Kenton

 


Cinderella

Gillian Lynne Theatre until 13th February 2022

 

Five star reviews from Jonathan this year:
Bklyn The Musical | ★★★★★ | Online | March 2021
Cruise | ★★★★★ | Duchess Theatre | May 2021
Preludes in Concert | ★★★★★ | Online | May 2021
Bad Days And Odd Nights | ★★★★★ | Greenwich Theatre | June 2021
The Hooley | ★★★★★ | Chiswick House & Gardens | June 2021
Operation Mincemeat | ★★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | August 2021

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Diary of a Teenage Girl – 3*

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Southwark Playhouse

Opening Night – 7 March 2017

⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Impressively staged, but ultimately disappointing”

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner. Now the thing with graphic novels is the author not only provides the words but also the pictures to allow the reader to interpret the storyline in their own way, yet providing them with the basic look of the characters and settings.

The concept of a graphic novel is therefore much harder to translate into a stage work than say just a novel on its own. Steer away too much from the artist’s original character led drawings and you risk losing fan base. Stick too closely to them,  and it’s all a little too safe and predictable. It’s a hard thing to get right.

The film of  the work received mainly good reviews, but that genre allowed much more deep exploration of the characters – so whilst sticking to Gloeckner’s original look and feel of 1970s San Francisco, it managed to add an extra dimension making it gritty and real.

The show at the Southwark Playhouse is delivered, as short scenes based around the diary entries of Minnie (Rona Morison). Minnie is only fifteen and in the throws of her sexual awakening, she flirts and ends up in a sexual relationship with Monroe (Jamie Wilkes), her mother’s on-off boyfriend. The play hints that Monroe may have instigated the relationship, but it’s clear Minnie is the one that feels strongest about it.

This could easily be a modern day tale of child abuse and grooming. Delivered as ‘comedy’ it is a little unsettling to watch at times. With  her drug taking mother Charlotte (Rebecca Trehearn), oblivious to what’s happening with her daughter, this could also be interpreted as a tale of neglect.

Whilst the original novel is about the sexual awakening of Minnie, there is a lot more content in it than the play shows. This adaptation chooses to focus wholly on the sexual parts of the story and as such fails to give any real background to a lot of the scenes or give us any real in depth understanding of the characters, other than Minnie.

It is impressively staged in ‘The Little’ – a credit to the set, lighting, sound and video designers involved. The actors deliver their lines well, with Rona Morison and Jamie Wilkes being particularly impressive. But ultimately this show is just ‘OK’, rather than anything remarkable. With the content of the novel, it could have been adapted to be something much more gripping and gritty. A little disappointing.

 

Photography by Darren Bell

 


The Diary of a Teenage Girl

is at The Southwark Playhouse until 25th March

 

 

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