Charing Cross Theatre, London – until 21 December 2019
This contemporary twist of the fairytale Cinderella is filled with charm and personality – performed with great gusto by all of the cast.
Cheeky, playful and immensely enjoyable from start to finish, Will Keith’s lively revival of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s Soho Cinders has a a great energy about it from start to finish that effectively sweeps the audience into Robbie’s complicated life.
The story begins on Old Compton Street, where Robbie is struggling to make ends meet by working in a launderette and being treated badly by his stepsisters Clodagh and Dana. To add to his complicated life, he is also dating potential mayoral candidate James Prince – but this soon results in a media scandal as secrets are exposed.
But thanks to Drewe and Elliot Davis’ book and script Soho Cinders is a laugh-a-minute story with all its innuendos and cracking one-liners but also filled with moments that are really quite touching to watch as relationships become increasingly complicated.
At its core, the story has plenty that is relatable for the modern day audience, reminding us the power of compassion and honesty – which seems to be even more important in these times. At the same time, there feels to be a slight edge to it – particularly when it comes to campaign manager William’s increasing need for power and what happens when a story becomes out of control and into the media – but other elements such as his blatant sexism could have been handled a bit better and with more insight perhaps.
Meanwhile, the score by Stiles and Drewe has plenty of enjoyable songs that vary in a range of tones and fit in well into the story. From the heartfelt and thoughtful ‘Let Him Go’, a boppy ‘You Shall Go to the Ball’ and the absolutely hilarious ‘I’m So Over Men’ – this is a score that really covers all bases musically to great effect.
It has to be said it does take a little time for Keith’s production to get going with the off-stage narration while wonderfully dry and witty in places can be used a little too often explaining exactly what is happening that it can break the spell of the audience being immersed in the story. This being said, the energy and warmth throughout makes this an endearing production to watch, while Adam Haigh’s choreography is slick and immensely enjoyable particularly during ‘It’s Hard to Tell’.
The cast all offer enthusiastic and sincere performances that bring the characters to life with great thought and depth. Luke Bayer as Robbie effectively conveys his struggle to deal with his increasingly complicated relationship with warmth as the situation spirals out of control. Meanwhile, his chemsitry with Millie O’Connell as his best friend Velcro is undeniably heartfelt and a joy to watch. O’Connell offers a grounded and funny performance and really blossoms particularly during the second act with her heartfelt duet with Tori Hargreaves’s heartbroken Marilyn to ‘Let Him Go’ proving to be a real highlight.
Elsewhere, Natalie Harman and Michaela Stern are delightfully vulgar as Robbie’s stepsisters, particularly seen during ‘Fifteen Minutes’ – consistently lighting up the stage with their antics, while Ewan Gillies is utterly convincing as the creepy and controlling William.
Soho Cinders is a delightfully cheeky modern take on Cinderella that has been given a lively and entertaining revival thanks to Will Keith’s production and immensely watchable cast.
By Emma Clarendon
Soho Cinders continues to play at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 21st December. To book tickets click here or visit: Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Encore Tickets, See Tickets, From the Box Office or Last Minute.com.