Matthew Bourne’s reworking of one of the world’s most famous fairytales, Cinderella, waltzes into the King’s theatre this week but don’t expect the traditional Disneyfied rags to riches story. Set in the London Blitz in 1940, this particular interpretation is given an unexpected twist from the strike of the first note of Prokofiev’s beautiful and dramatic classical score. The performance transports the audience back to a time when, despite the horrors of war and the constant threat of danger, love and romance still blossomed.
Ashley Shaw shines as the stereotypical down on her luck Cinderella who lives with her wicked stepmother and her vain and selfish step-sisters. There is also the added comic relief of three rather bizarre step-brothers.
All of the characters flourish and develop throughout the story which beautifully supports the unravelling of the traditional story arc.
Cinderella dreams of a better life and of being swept off her feet into the arms of a heroic RAF pilot. Liam Mower beautifully and artistically makes this dream come true as “The Angel” by bringing her together with an RAF Pilot called Harry.
However all is not as perfect as it seems. Just as Cinderella has her own cross to bear, Harry is also traumatised from the horrors of war and is just as vulnerable and scared at times as Cinderella herself.
A reminder perhaps that even Prince Charming isn’t perfect! The production moves through three acts where Cinders and her Prince pilot try to overcome the odds to be together, eventually leading to the happily ever after of these star-crossed lovers.
The choreography throughout is spell-binding and had the audience swept into the story. Bourne has stayed true to many of the traditions of the classic tale – the invitations to the ball, the lost slipper and the countdown to midnight.
However while the essence of the fairy tale and all its magic is there, it is always punctuated with the emotional and physical struggles of a wartime generation – from the dramatic performance of the gas mask dogs to the shattered streets to the shrill sounds of the air raid sirens and wardens.
The high level of technical detail in the set complimented by surround sound really leaves the audience feeling part of this magical production.
The ballroom scene is set in Café de Paris and is very much the highlight of the show. The orginal café de Paris in London was a sumptuous hotspot during the Blitz for those determined to dance the night away during the darkest of times.
The choreography throughout intersperses traditional ballet with the Lindy hop, jives and other 1940s dance styles. The waltz between Cinderella and Harry tells their story perfectly and the characters fall in love with each other just as the audience falls in love with them.
This inspiring piece of dance theatre will remain in your memory long after you leave the theatre. It is no wonder that it has received five star reviews throughout its touring run, equipped with a stellar cast, creative choreography and an inspiring and emotive story. Book your tickets now before midnight strikes!
Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, King’s Theatre Glasgow, runs until 16th June 2018