Cinderella by Katrina Cowie
Bath Unity Players
Weds 20 – Sat 23 December 2017
Cinderella. One of the most traditional of pantomimes. Everyone knows the story and what to expect. We have the poor downtrodden Cinders (Olivia Cowie) backed loyally by the comedic Buttons (Josh Cottle). Add a seriously evil stepmother (Kim Jenkins) and two hideous stepsisters (Kevin Miles and Tom Jenkins), one camp and the other a little manly – (we’ll let you decide which is which). This gives the duo a nice contrast and works well with their quick comebacks and witty one-liners. We have a master of ceremonies in the form of The Lord Chamberlain (Ian Cowie). There is of course a comedy duo – the peeping paparazzi of Flash (Cressida Bullock) and Focus (Kirstie Flood), who perform a particularly good version of the groan-out-loud money gag in Act Two. Introduce a dashing Prince (Sophie Cruse) and a dandy Dandini (Kim Cardoza) and of course the magical Fairy Godmother (Lynda Tucker) and not of course forgetting the support of the chorus of villagers and you have all the elements of the traditional story in place.
There are plenty of familiar gags and one-liners that although we’ve heard them before still raise a smile. It was nice to see some newer jokes about Facebook making an appearance bringing the pantomime up-to-date. A good selection of musical numbers and of course the ever-brilliant dancers from the Curtis School of Dance with their highly polished choreography they help lift the production to another level. There were lovely visuals from Adrian Cottle adding a level of professionalism not often seen with community pantomimes and colourful and bright lighting from Peter Blackmore at Light Options which really helped set the atmosphere.
The show, for me however was a little too long in length – it could do with some trimming down to enable the action to flow easier. I always love the use of a live musician however the slower ballads would have been more impact with just the piano alone to make the moments more intimate and poignant and to enable the vocals to be clearly heard. The volume level of the dance pieces was far too quiet. I really felt for the dancers when the sound out front did not match their high energy onstage and also for the audience who wanted to clap along and join in (you could see they were itching to do this) – a bit more oomph from the music would help to encourage this (particularly the final dance number).
These are however only small notes and should not take away from the groups effort. We must not forget that The Unity Players are one of Bath’s oldest performing community groups, and what is clear more than anything else is that they are all having fun performing together as evidenced by the responses from their loyal audiences (who even added a few excellently-timed heckles which the cast handled brilliantly). This production is about community, about family and about being part of something together. The spirit of the group cannot be faulted and long may it last!
Luke John Emmett