JOYCE MCMILLAN on CINDERELLA at Perth Theatre for The Scotsman 10.12.13.
4 stars ****
IT’S TIME FOR GOODBYES, at Perth Theatre this Christmas. Rachel O’Riordan’s fine production of Cinderella marks her last show in Perth before she leaves for a new job in Wales, and also the last performance in the theatre itself, before it closes for two years of rebuilding; and it’s typical of the inspiration O’Riordan has brought to the task of running this lovely Victorian theatre, over the last two years, that she has chosen a Cinderella which nods gracefully at this melancholy mood, before looking forward to a bright future.
So Alan McHugh’s version of the tale is set in a run-down old theatre, The Palace, where our lovely Cinders slaves in an attic wardrobe department, while her nasty stepmother Cressida hatches a plan to run the theatre into the ground, mainly by letting her ghastly daughters Luvvie and Darling appear in every show. Despite the unusual setting, the story follows a conventional path, as Anne Kidd’s lovely fairy godmother rhymes her way around the building and nearby woods, making sure that Helen Mackay’s beautiful, wide-eyed Cinders meets her Prince, and that the course of true love eventually runs smoothly.
Along the way, though, there are many rich and gorgeous aspects to this good-looking show, with Barrie Hunter in rip-roaring form as the leading ugly sister, Luvvie, and the local jokes coming thick and fast; Becky Minto’s sets introduce a note of dusty, lyrical beauty sadly lacking in most Scottish pantos this year, and Ewan Donald makes a strong and gifted Buttons, set to inherit his beloved theatre when Cinderella marries her prince. It’s Buttons, too, who delivers the show’s memorable epilogue, reminding us that that the theatre belongs to all of us, on stage and in the auditorium; and to judge by the warmth of the applause, Perth Theatre’s audience will be there and waiting for it, when the lights go up again in 2016.