Is it politically correct? Do today’s children (aka young people) want to see men dressed as colourful and improbable women, or girls dressed as thigh-slapping high-camp boys? Are stories about sibling and step-parental abuse and dodgy uncles not inappropriate?
Or do we celebrate the very English tradition of pantomime and play it as if we really mean it?
In the south west this year you have a wide variety of choice, but if your bent is towards the traditional, head for Salisbury Playhouse where Cinderella will be making her way to the ball until Saturday 9th January.
Directed by Ryan McBryde in collaboration with Spanish designer Diego Pitarch, this is a fun-packed telling of the story with enough twists to keep it fresh. The set itself is eye-popping, full of timepieces (well it IS all about the stroke of midnight!) and Heath Robinson gadgetry that we just know must find its place in the story before the wedding.
Alex Hammond’s Prince Charming is ALMOST enough to convince me of the benefits of male principal boys, so dashing and handsome and funny is he. Matched with Leon Scott’s Italian Dandini (why didn’t anyone realise Dandini was Italian before!), played as a cross between a gothic Salvador Dali and the Go Compare tenor, these are a hilarious pair.
The best known duo in Cinderella is of course the Ugly Sisters, here Miley and Kylie played by the tall Andrew Ashford and the squatter Michael Cahill. Their bathtime routine is a new-fangled joy.
Jemma Churchill is having a marvellous time as their ghastly mother, the Baroness in Cruella de Vil hues.
Patrick George is a charmingly poignant Buttons, and if the sisters like twerking, his metier is Trocking, ably accompanied by Leon Scott.
The show is full of familiar music, new jokes, action and family fun, with lots of opportunities for audience participation. Interestingly it was a group of women in their 20s and 30s who were even more actively involved than the very noisy Cubs behind us, so it really IS a show for everyone.
Photographs by Robert Workman