Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella – The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth

Cinderella is another performance I was lucky enough to catch when its tour stopped by Theatre Royal Plymouth. Similar to Hairspray, it isn’t the kind of show I’d usually consider ‘my thing’. But a major part of this year is getting myself as immersed in theatre as possible, so I’m making sure I see shows that are outside of my comfort zone.

Cinderella doesn’t have any dialogue. Given that it’s a ballet this shouldn’t have come as a shock to me, and yet… I really couldn’t tell you why I hadn’t realised this would be the case, but I spent the first couple of scenes wondering when someone was going to speak. And then the next few scenes feeling dumb as heck for having been confused by this. Without dialogue I found myself struggling to remain focussed and engaged all the time but that’s more a reflection of me than the show. Can’t really be criticising a ballet for having too much dancing!

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the show. There were moments of proper beauty, these dancers have levels of grace I can’t even begin to fathom. At times it looked like they could’ve been floating. There was a particularly great scene where the baddies are walking around a hospital. Some skilful choreography and movement turned it into something hilarious, particularly for the Stepmother whose dress accentuated every step perfectly.

The costumes and set were my favourite aspect of the show. Lez Brotherston did a fantastic job, creating ingenious sets that evoke London better than some films. There’s some great switches between bombed out desolation and a luxe nightclub that had me fascinated. I think working at a theatre and having some sense of how difficult it is to achieve things like that has made me focus on it more, but everyone I spoke to had been impressed.

The show plays around with the story of Cinderella, transposing it to WWII London. It fits the story pretty well and adds an extra level of emotion to it all. And it allows for the aforementioned sweet sets. Overall, I think I enjoyed it. It was pretty to watch, at times emotionally affecting and definitely an impressive spectacle. I don’t think I could say I was a ballet convert though.

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