Tinderella - Two Big Balls One Happy Ending

"For a fun night out with enough wine and sexual jokes, this Panto was very fun"

"Tinderella is a whizz on social media, a real influencer, but it’s all a charade because poor Tinders has no money, no man and none of the glamorous life she claims to be living. Until one day, she meets not one, but two Princes in the woods…. But who has the biggest balls?"

Can Ella get off Tinder, swipe right on a real prince and finally enjoy some balls? Well she definitely gets one ball, the other is cut off at the end.

Ella, Laura Mead, plays a strong lead with enough confusion around some of her own lines that it's comforting to the audience. She spread herself across the cast letting everyone have a go... at calling her names. Until she arrives at the ball, drops her contraceptive and is hunted down by the prince who checks to see whose hole it will fit.

All the while Fairy G, and Maleficent run on to fill the scene changes. Quite why Maleficent was there was unknown, other than talking about the Ginger Prince, who was also throwing a ball and wanted help with social media. But it gave the audience someone to boo at.

To maintain the magic of Fairy G and Maleficent there was some unfortunate tech constraints that spoiled the magic. Having Gabriel Mokake and Monty Camisa-Bundy, respectively, appear outside their pink and green lights spoiled the magic and left the scene looking unprepared. On frequent occasions these characters were dropped into the world of the regular characters and looked misplaced.

Alongside the technical let downs, basic set changes from outside in the woods to inside Baron Hardon's hall, with a lot left for the imagination. What doesn't help is the minimal props and cast to fill the space. They struggle to create the fulfilment of a full scene with only a backdrop and two actors.

As a staple of any "Ella story”, the two ugly sisters kept appearing to ruin Ella's day. Alongside the strong performance of Ella by Mead, Clitoria (Alan Kelly), brings Mrs Brown to the West End. Their giggle and severe swearing leaves the audience needing stitches...in their sides. Kelly's grotesque ugly sister with a loose jaw kept the audience laughing and gave a lot of scenes a much needed boost of energy.

This was the same with Act 2, as this half of the show was more energetic and featured all the classic call outs and numbers that are expected in a British panto. While these were fun, they were crammed in at what seemed the last minute and would have been better spread out across the show.

Speaking of the musical numbers, most of which were parodies or Hairspray songs - not completely sure why - they were entertaining and funny with clever choreography from William Spencer. Particularly the "Something Else I Would Be" number that saw the entire cast line up and recite a line in cannon. A classic moment in panto. However, most of the lyrics were forgettable and lacklustre; apart from "How I Blew Ya" sung to Alexandra Burke's Hallelujah in which the audience are treated to a post-party blues with the Prince who somehow slept with both Ugly Sisters and Buttons.

Unfortunately, this is another character that failed to make a splash. Buttons was running in and out of scenes with no clear direction or motive. In some scenes he is flirting with Ella and the audience "awe" at him being friend zoned, the next scene he is hoping to see the (Prince's) cock in the morning and flirting with a great sport in the front row. During the interval, the audience were invited to scan a QR Code to vote for who buttons should end up dating at the end of the show which was then announced like a raffle prize and forgotten about. While this was a fun gimmick it felt exactly that - a gimmick and was not actually embedded into the show.

A star of the show was Prince Charming, brought to life by Lauren Bimson. The energy brought to stage was true panto genderbending charm! With a classic, posh accent, exaggerated movements and plenty of thrusting, Prince Charming came on the stage and made a stain!

Unfortunately, the largest stain on this show was the script. Though the production has many clever lines, this script is riddled with one liners and focuses more on an inuendo than making sense. Musical numbers came from nowhere, and the entire subplot about The Ginger Prince only exists in the villains' monologues. The villain poses no real threat. Was Buttons even gay? There are many other questions that the audience are cursed with and this didn't aid the comedy. 

For a fun night out with enough wine and sexual jokes, this Panto was very fun. But the more you Scrub at the Hinge's and see the Tinder being lit by Match.com, it is a Bumble of a script well cast with minimal stagecraft.

This show was reviewed on the 28th November 2023.  Tinderella runs at the Union Theatre, London until the 23rd December 2023.  Tickets available here: Tinderella, Two Big Balls, One Happy Ending! | Union Theatre

Review written by Ryan Lenney

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Photo credit: Robin Savage 

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