Theatre review: Midnight’s Pumpkin, BAC, London

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IN THE elegant, high-ceilinged surrounds of BAC’s Grand Hall, something strange and disappointing is happening.

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Kneehigh, that renowned team of theatrical wizards, has modernised the Cinderella story by turning it into an ad hoc gig but has, most surprisingly, lost its magic touch along the way. The company has, one could even say, turned into a pumpkin here. It’s a lazy show above all else, as directors Emma Rice and Mike Shepherd have hardly bothered with anything as tricky as characterisation. We learn next to nothing about Midnight (Audrey Brisson), as our heroine is now called, and what we do know of the Prince (Phil Brodie) we find unappealing. This internet dating egotist would be far better suited to one of the screeching step-sisters. Interludes featuring an anthropomorphic pumpkin and a group of mice are woefully underdeveloped. There are no obstacles to Midnight getting to either of the two – why? – royal balls; in fact, nobody seems the slightest bit bothered what she does. Two intervals stretch this wafer-thin piece to breaking-point and it often seems in danger of turning into a disco-come-line-dancing class for the excited tweenies in the audience. Mass musical participation is encouraged, maybe in the hope that we’ll generate our own entertainment to fill the void at this Pumpkin’s hollow core. Pah.