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Watermill - Cinderella and the Enchanted Slipper

30th November 2001 to 12th January 2002

This is from the NWN.

Tradition, with heaps of attitude

'CINDERELLA AND THE ENCHANTED SLIPPER', at the Watermill, Bagnor, until Saturday, January 12

Director John Doyle surely has the magic touch. All this year he's been tucking major awards under his belt and now 'Cinderella and The Enchanted Slipper' must be another absolute winner.

You wouldn't think anyone could approach such a well-known tale with a new eye, but he does, yet still maintains the tradition. Staged in the round, with a simple set of scattered chests, including a music box metaphor for the happy couple - five characters form a motley bunch including a hippy, gothic punk and a couple of tartan-clad lovers. Clod-hopping boots are much in evidence, too - serving all the more to emphasise the delicacy of our Cinders' famous silk slipper.

Skilled actor/musicians all, they play keyboards, double bass, trumpets and sax, but at the ball the Prince - oh-so-charming Highlander Michael Howcroft - can't help but be captivated by the ethereal violinist Cinderella.

That's it in a nutshell, really. No sentimentality. No mushiness. Not a pumpkin in site. And you'd find it hard to hate either 'wicked stepmother' Lady Petulant, played so 'Ab Fab' by the versatile Karen Mann in purple kaftan, headband and glorious ginger wig, or the gauche punk 'ugly sister' Petronella, in Rebecca Jackson's brilliant comic portrayal with heaps of attitude and black lace.

Mike Afford as the whimpering, bullied Lord Patrick Penniless comes good in the end, and his put-upon daughter Cinderella, convincingly played by Charlotte Roach is a model of virtue who holds no grudge for her life of drudgery, guided by her dead mother's spirit into getting her man, the money and the castle. Not a bad day's work.

Richard G. Jones' superb lighting enveloped the auditorium in an air of blue mystery - illuminating the sparkling chandeliers, glass balls and stars suspended from the ceiling. Mist crept over the stage - moments of pure magic.

Only the second performance of the Christmas run, it was outstandingly polished and relaxed. In the intimate atmosphere of the old theatre there was a real sense of tradition - a feel for the craft of the strolling player. Every element of theatre came together in this happy-ever-after production - it will be the show of the season for me and my family.