Edinburgh’s German Christmas Market is once again in situ on Princes Street and the Christmas lights have been switched on, which means that it must be time to get in the festive spirit. Luckily, all of Edinburgh’s major theatres are offering seasonal family entertainment to heave us out of the winter doldrums with a sprinkling of Christmas cheer.
It was a little disconcerting therefore that the Lyceum’s Cinderella opened with the not-so-cheery scene of a young Cinderella sprinkling her mother’s ashes; dipping her hand into the cremation urn and scattering the grey dust under what used to be her mother’s favourite tree. Oh well, at least now things could only get better…
The next scene opened promisingly with the cosy, domestic spectacle of a grown-up Cinderella and her father happily laying the table for dinner. When her father goes to answer a knock at the door, we hear a commotion and a frightening woman appears in the kitchen doorway, demanding that Cinderella hand her a hot towel so that she may save her father’s life.
As we were all a little confused as to what had just occurred, it was fortunate that Cinderella’s dead mother, who had now assumed the form of the proverbial fairy godmother, was able to take us back in time and replay the scene from a more revealing perspective.
We now see the frightening lady – Monique La Mort – and her two daughters, deciding on their next ‘victim’: Monique needs to boost her evil magical powers which she gains only through the unrequited love of men.
Not really any less confused, we watch as Monique ‘zaps’ Cinderella’s father, pouring a few drops of a magic love potion into his mouth, as he writhes on the floor in agony.
Not many laughs so far - and things are about to get worse for poor old Cinders, as her father blithely obeys Monique’s command to call Cinderella ‘Girl’ and have her sleep outside in the cold. Cinders only friend now is Boy, who appears to be Monique’s servant and is treated with equal cruelty.
The humour so far had been supplied by daughters Camille and Colette; both crude and brassy, they displayed as much dry wit as they did fake tan. And with everyone else playing it straight, the arrival of Prince Pierre – not a real Prince but a famous reality TV star that all the girls are in love with – was a welcome distraction. He is a prancing, preening, self-absorbed fool whose mother, the TV commissioner, has threatened to axe his TV show if he doesn’t find a wife. He has therefore invited every girl in the land to a candlelit supper.
With a few twists and turns and a little fun along the way, we eventually arrive at the happy-ever-after ending and what would have been an all-together-singalong, had the tunes not been newly-penned and therefore unfamiliar to all but the cast.
While understanding that the Lyceum shuns the raucous and gaudy traditional panto format, without the glitz, glamour and audience involvement, what remains is an earnest family show that contains some humour and will probably leave you feeling mildly uplifted.
Show runs til 29 December
7.00pm (some at 5.30pm), dates vary