Set in and around a surprisingly clean and quiet Old Compton Street (well it is a fairy story after all) Soho Cinders is based, ever so loosely, on the tale of Cinderella. An omniscient narrator assists in introducing characters, explaining where the action is taking place and delivering some sarcastic comments and one-liners. The show follows the fortunes of Robbie (Luke Bayer), an impoverished young man having to stay with best friend Velcro (Millie O’Connell) whilst he is in the process of having his allegedly intestate mother’s inheritance stolen from him by his two ‘ugly’ stepsisters. To make ends meet he escorts the older Lord Bellingham (Christopher Coleman) accepting gifts and freebies despite being in love with a ‘mystery man’. Lord Bellingham is the financial backer of Mayoral Candidate James Prince (Lewis Asquith) who is engaged to lawyer Marilyn (Tori Hargreaves) but secretly in love with Robbie. Yes, Prince is the mystery man. Things come to a head when they all meet at the same fund raising event, but in the true fairy tale tradition, everything works out in the end.
The farce potential of these complex relationships is never really exploited, instead the humour comes from ‘over the top’ characters and the many one-liners that elicit a regular stream of laughter from the audience. Stepsisters Clodagh (Michaela Stern) and Dana (Natalie Harman) ham it up beautifully in all their numbers, ‘I’m So Over Men’ showcasing their considerable vocal talents. Ewan Gillies is also wonderful as the deliciously ruthless, slimy and misogynistic campaign manager.
It’s worth going for Stiles’ and Drewe’s catchy, memorable songs and the energetic and exuberant dance numbers, especially when performed so well by a talented cast. The previously mentioned ‘I’m So Over Men’ stands out along with ‘The Tail That Wags the Dog’ and Bayer’s best number ‘They Don’t Make Glass Slippers’. Justin Williams’ set makes good use of the long narrow layout of the Charing Cross Theatre being placed in the middle and seating the audience at either end. Adam Haigh’s excellent choreography ensures that both sections of audience have a good view and are addressed by individual characters for an equal amount of time. There was never any feeling of exclusion by the cast having their back to us.
Unfortunately, the Dick Van Dyke style of Mockney accents wears a bit thin after about five minutes. Equally, the story seems to have aged more than the 2011 premier would suggest, glossing over important issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace and not really representing the diverse nature of this part of London. Of course, it is not billed as deep social commentary but a ‘fun’ ‘colourful’ and ‘infectious’ musical which is delivered via the first-rate performances of every member of the cast. A light-hearted entertaining evening for the festive season.
Directed by: Will Keith
Produced by: Will Keith for Theatre Syndicate London; Michaela Stern for Starting Over Theatricals
Choreography by: Adam Haigh
Music composed by: George Stiles
Lyrics by: Anthony Drewe
Based on the book by: Anthony Drewe and Elliot Davies
Box Office: 0844 4930650
Booking Link: https://www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk
Booking Until: 21 December 2019