From huge star vehicles and massive West End musical to hip fringe shows and more, here’s the very latest London theatre reviews from the Time Out theatre team.
Read our latest Time Out theatre reviews and find out what our London theatre team made of the city's new plays, musicals and theatre shows
For 13 years the Lyric Hammersmith pantomime has cultivated a reputation as the punky outsider of the London panto scene: more political, more jokes for adults, and often just plain weirder than its peers.
That’s not the case with the 2023 edition. Written by long-term associate of the panto Vikki Stone it’s a far gentler affair than any of its predecessors. Has the Lyric panto gone soft? It’s hard to say: Stone also wrote the much spikier 2021 ‘Aladdin’, so you can’t put it purely down to her. Perhaps the change in tone reflects the preferences of director Tonderai Munyeva, a newcomer to pantomime who directs competently but without a huge amount of flair.
Any which way, Stone’s ‘Cinderella’ is a lot of fun, and if there are fewer gags for grown-ups there are definitely a lot of reworked ‘90s bangers to compensate. From ‘Disco 2000’ to ‘Mambo No 5’, Stone is wise to the idea that using songs beloved by millennial parents is at least as quick a way to a happy audience as doing versions of whatever it is that ten-year-olds listen to these days (though to be fair a run through ‘Antihero’ goes down well).
The show, then. Well, it’s your standard west London spin on the fairytale, with Tilly La Belle Yengo’s Cinders working at Shepherd’s Bush Market flogging her own range of boutique rodentwear. In a somewhat gentler version of the story than we sometimes get, she has an oppressive but maybe not quite abusive home life. Sisters Muffy (Charlie Cameron) and Gusset (Meghan Treadway) are obnoxious but not monstrous (or, indeed, ugly). The returning Emmanuel Akwafo does a fine job of adding some U-rated sauce and negotiating the slightly complicated role of Cinderella’s stepmother Lady Jelly-Bottom, who sort of morphs from pantomime villain to pantomime dame over the course of the show; Akwafo feels palpably more comfortable in the latter role, but he gives both some serious welly.
Cinderella’s fortunes are changed when Damien James’s posh, socially awkward Prince Henry of Hammersmith runs across her stall and falls head over heels but fails to get her name, so decides to throw a massive party in the hope she’ll turn up – which she does, flying there after Jodie Jacobs’s Fairy apparently turns her pet gerbil into a sort of grotesque gerbil-plane.
You could run a fleet of trucks through the obvious plot hole that the Prince knows where Cinderella works and so could obviously find her very easily - but that’s panto, baby!
And a fine, fun, big-hearted panto it is too. But I can’t help but miss that old sprinkle of Lyric Hammersmith acid.
What if Secret Cinema did a Christmas grotto? That’s kind of the vibe to this kids’ immersive festive experience, which takes place in ‘The Old Bauble Factory’ - not in fact an actual disused bauble factory, but a rebranding of a section of the old Vaults complex under Waterloo…
The Orange Tree Theatre scores a hit with new artistic director Tom Littler’s raucously enjoyable revival of Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 comedy classic, ‘She Stoops To Conquer’. With judicious modern tweaks to the script, it’s buoyed along by a top-tier cast who go full ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ on this production’s updated 1930s setting.
Support Time Out
We see you’re using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue is Time Out’s main source of income. The content you’re reading is made by independent, expert local journalists.
Support Time Out directly today and help us champion the people and places which make the city tick. Cheers!Donate now
Discover Time Out original video