Reviewed by Lucy Gwilliam
I took my young daughter, Heidi, to The Lowry theatre in Salford Quays, Manchester to watch Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella. Even though it was a school night, I felt it would be worth allowing her to stay up late as she was so excited at the prospect of seeing this spectacular production. I firmly believe that visiting the theatre as often as possible is an important part of my children’s education, as well as being entertaining for us all.
Cinderella is set in 1940’s London during the Blitz and opens with a Pathe style newsreel projected onto the screen, setting the scene. Poor Cinders is waiting on her stepfamily, as in the well-loved fairy tale. However, this is not your average re-telling of Cinderella as Bourne has updated the story dramatically. The prince has been changed into an RAF pilot, traumatised and suffering from the after effects of war, whilst Cinders is bespectacled, clumsy and shy, until she is transformed by the Angel (instead of the usual fairy godmother) into a glamourous, beautiful and sophisticated young lady.
This is a vivid, classy production, with Bourne’s stunning choreography set to Prokofiev’s beautiful score. Ashley Shaw is outstanding as Cinderella, alternating between the role of the dowdy, put-upon stepdaughter to the beautiful, classy princess. Will Bozier plays the part of Harry, the pilot to perfection and Liam Mower is superb as the Angel. There are several funny, laugh out loud moments provided by the stepbrothers and stepsisters and especially by Cinderella’s stepmother, Sybil, beautifully depicted by Anjali Mehra.
The ballroom scene is cleverly set in the Cafe de Paris, which was famously destroyed by German bombs in 1941. The final poignant scene is reminiscent of the beautiful wartime classic black and white film Brief Encounter, with the couple at Paddington train station, alongside other couples, some of whom are bidding tearful farewells.
Matthew Bourne has brought to the stage a wonderful, magical treat, which we absolutely loved.
Tickets cost from £31.50 to £47.50 (booking fees may apply).
Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella is at The Lowry in Manchester from 13-17 March 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000