Matthew Bourne's CINDERELLA Review: This masterpiece earns itself a "PENNSYLVANIA 6,5000" out of 5

The cast of Matthew Bourne's CINDERELLA

The cast of Matthew Bourne’s CINDERELLA. Photo Credit: Johan Persson

CINDERELLA is transported to 1940’s Britain in Sir Matthew Bourne’s unique and fitting tribute to this classic fairy tale

Using a score by Sergei Prokofiev originally penned during World War II as inspiration, Sir Matthew Bourne transports CINDERELLA to the nostalgic era of 1940’s Britain in a unique and fitting tribute to this classic fairy tale.

Set against the backdrop of a war-torn London, the performance begins with low flying bombers roaring loudly and sirens blaring out overhead as the audience take to their seats at The Lowry. The famous image of St Paul’s Cathedral lit by searchlights, along with newsreels from the Blitz, opens the show. Gone are the days of soot covered rags – this is 1940’s Britain – as there, amongst the rubble, lies one silver shoe.

Ashley Shaw, fresh from the leading role as Vicky Page in the highly acclaimed THE RED SHOES, encapsulates the downtrodden heroine, in a drab duo of grey pleats and a prim, button-through cardigan. In contrast, her stepsisters, played by Sophia Hurdley and Kate Lyons, are stylishly dressed in black and white, no longer quite as ugly, but just as callous and catty. They are joined by three stepbrothers played by Andrew Monaghan, Dan Wright and Mark Samaras, whose antics are led by a liquor infused, Joan Crawford-esque, wicked Stepmother fabulously portrayed by Anjali Mehra.

Distraught, that she has not been invited to the mid Blitz Ball, Cinderella is consoled by her now wheelchair bound Father (Alan Vincent). With a little help from her unannounced ‘Fairy-Godfather’, her injured Pilot/Prince (Will Bozier) stumbles through the door, head in bandages and literally falls at her feet. Their magical meeting is ruined by the arrival of her step-family and unwilling to take on their advances, the soldier is shown the door. With only an abandoned cap as a clue, Cinderella re-creates her dashing pilot by dancing with her brothers chalked marked, tailors dummy. As their bodies twist and curl around each other, the piece is a a true feast for the eyes as Cinders brings her ‘prince mannequin’ to life.

CINDERELLA by Matthew Bourne

The cast of Matthew Bourne’s CINDERELLA. Photo Credit: Johan Persson

Caught up in an air strike, Cinderella hovers between life and death before her Fairy-Godfather, flamboyantly danced by Liam Mower, reappears and swoops Cinderella up above the clouds of this bombed city – not by coach and horses, but by a flying, silver motorbike and sidecar – to the mid-Blitz party before the clock strikes 12. Amidst the echoes of ‘The Forces Sweetheart’ we arrive in the Café de Paris as Shaw is transformed from her bespectacled, gawky charm, into a silver screen goddess from the golden age of Hollywood. The rest is history…… or is it?

With a truly excellent set and costume design by Olivier Award winning Lez Brothertson, Matthew Bourne once again turns an average fairy tale into something truly special. Lit with comedic facial expression and stunning choreography, Bourne creates an world full of talented dancers, characters and gorgeous period designs – a world which is well worth a visit. Add in a finale which  celebrates VE Day and encourages the audience to sing and jitter-bug their way out of the stalls, and this masterpiece earns itself a PENNSYLVANIA, 6,5000 out of 5!

5 out of 5 stars

Matthew Bourne’s CINDERELLA runs at The Lowry until 17 March 2018