Off to Richmond Theatre tonight to enjoy their yearly offering of pantomime. Matcham's crimson chocolate box is the perfect playhouse and really comes into it's own every December when the frocks are dusted down, the backdrops hauled up on the flies and the cast settle in for the month and a half run. This year it's the turn of Cinderella. Lite on reality TV celebs and high on variety entertainers it was heart warmingly traditional and rather brilliantly played.
Gary Wilmott stars as the ever amiable, best of best friends, Buttons delighting in warming up the children as he confides in them of his love for Cinderella, charmingly played by Kellie Shirley. Hard not to feel a little heartbroken when she reveals that she loves him 'like a brother.' Still with the resilance of the playground he's quick to bounce back and is soon doing everything in his power to get her to the ball.
His show driving energy is well supported by Graham Hoadley and Paul Burnham as the ugly sisters Beatrice and Eugenie, who, like their royal namesakes work their way through an desperate amount of implausible costumes, each more outrageous than the last.
Together they form a devastating double act as cruel as they are ridiculous. They left the audience roaring in disapproval and delight.
There are local gags, Shetland ponies, camp choreography, a perfectly acted slosh scene and Jenny Eclair tottering around as a rather out of place fairy Godmother, all of which contributes to a blissful evening of high octane, joke filled, routine rich, joy. .
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.