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Theatre Review: Cinderella is top-flight online entertainment

This online panto embraces the new format while keeping all the old traditions alive and well, says TIM WALKER

Peter Duncan and Adam Price as the Ugly Sisters Photo: Gordon Render

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The opening nights in my diary are beginning to feel like aircraft awaiting take-off slots at Heathrow in thick fog in the old days.

Moulin Rouge was due to get airborne last week – its second attempt – but this, too, was aborted before it reached the point of no return.

Hex, the National Theatre’s big Christmas production, and the Donmar’s Force Majeure are still sitting on the tarmac, weeks after their scheduled opening nights.

Their status, at the time of writing, is undeclared. Around the country, there are hundreds more shows in the same limbo.

This is eminently worse than at the start of the pandemic when there was at least clarity in the knowledge that no one was going anywhere – at least not any time soon.

Still, for those wanting theatre that’s guaranteed and safe, there’s always the quick fix of online productions.

Former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan’s annual panto is Cinderella and it’s still available.

Lucy-Jane Quinlan, in the title role, gives a vivacious performance, and there is fine support in the shape of old stagers such as Ian Talbot, as Baron Hardup, and Henry Roadnight, as Buttons.

I had my doubts as to whether Duncan could make online panto work when he first gave it a whirl last year, but, with the wily producer, Denise Silvey, by his side, he made such a success of it that it has now become something of a tradition in its own right.

Too much theatre that’s put online makes absolutely no concession to the fact it has been put on to a screen – rather than a stage – but this one embraces the new format while keeping all the old traditions alive and well.

The turkey may have long since been eaten and the decorations may have come down, but this is one last remnant of the festive season that can still be savoured.

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