Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Cinderella and the Beanstalk at Theatre 503
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Cinderella and the Beanstalk at Theatre 503
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Cinderella and the Beanstalk at Theatre 503
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30 Nov REVIEW: Cinderella and the Beanstalk at Theatre503

The festive season is finally upon us, the change in season heralded by smell of mince pies, the taste mulled wine, and the sound of pantomime emanating from almost every theatre. But this year, instead of spending December taking my normal dive headfirst into a well-matured cask of Christmas spirit, I’m swapping snow and santa for sea and sand, and going travelling in more exotic climes. With a flight in less than a week’s time, all attention should have been at getting loose ends tidied up and last minute shopping finished, but when the invitation to re-review Cinderella and the Beanstalk landed in my inbox, despite all intentions, I just had to make an exception to this year’s “no Christmas shows” rule.

And of course, Cinderella and the Beanstalk didn’t disappoint. Playing for their second year at Theatre503, Sleeping Trees present their deliriously funny panto that proves a “family friendly” label doesn’t make a snoozefest of a show for adults – and that thinly veiled innuendo isn’t the only way to make grown ups laugh. When I reviewed the show last year, I said it had been “charmingly conceived and brilliantly executed, frenetic and fun and cleverly chaotic,” and I absolutely stand by what I said; what’s more, Sleeping Trees have kept the vibrancy of their production just as it always was, whilst making minor tweaks to make it even better.

Like a glorious mish mash of every fairytale, pantomime and Disney film you could think of, Cinderella and the Beanstalk follows the eponymous character off up the beanstalk, looking for some golden eggs coveted by a devious Rumplestiltskin. But with a character list well into the dozens, and a cast list that a duck could count on one foot, it watches like a “best of panto” feature, with your favourite bits of all the pantos squashed into one, though with an actual storyline to pull it all together, and the added coup that even the extras (like Little Red Riding Hood) have starred in their own feature films. Sure, there aren’t any pantomime dames, but there’s a pregnant cow, so you can’t say much fairer than that.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: writer/performers Joshua George Smith, John Woodburn and James Dunnell-Smith are outstanding in their delivery, not just because of their ability to switch character like you might flick between television channels, but because between them they emanate enough energy to power the whole of England. And maybe some of Scotland. Literally bouncing about the place, facial expressions replace a thousand words, and let’s face it, there’s something rather pleasing about fully grown men with facial hair prancing about a stage in onesies.

I’ve already voted with my feet and been back to Theatre 503 to see Cinderella and the Beanstalk again. And I’d definitely go at least once more. So on a personal level, I would love to see Sleeping Trees come back on 2016,. But even more so, I would love to see them bring a new show.

For tickets and information:
Venue: Theatre503
Dates: 25th November 2015 – 2nd January 2016

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here