Theatre review: Cinderella, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh

OVER the last 20 years, the Brunton Theatre has developed the delightful knack of creating unpretentious pantos, on a shoestring budget, that nonetheless often seem to do more to maintain the tradition and spirit of panto than all of the nation’s glitzier shows put together.

The spirit of panto is alive in Brunton Theatres version of Cinderella, starring Kirsty Halliday. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The spirit of panto is alive in Brunton Theatres version of Cinderella, starring Kirsty Halliday. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Cinderella

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh

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Rating: ***

This year’s Cinderella, put together by regular writer-director Mark Cox and his team, is no exception. The show looks a bit rough-and-ready in ways that slightly more sensitive lighting could easily improve, the score is a raucous selection of recent heart-on-sleeve hits, and the acting and singing is variable.

Yet there’s no denying the pure spirit of local panto that animates the whole show, as Cox’s script lays on the East Lothian jokes (with some very funny song lyrics), Derek McGhie makes a fine job of bonding with the audience as Buttons, and Richard Conlon and Mark McDonnell act up an absolute storm as a terrifically wicked and hideous pair of Ugly Sisters.

Like all the best pantos, this one wears mediaeval costume, but slips effortlessly through time; here, Cinderella’s domestic drudgery includes the nasty task of backing up her ugly sisters’ iPads, and Prince Jamie’s journey around East Lothian in search of a bride is trending on Twitter (hashtag #jamieonajaunttaejoppa).

And by the time a wobbly but recognisable blow-up coach comes exploding out of the pumpkin, making a virtue of economic necessity, this jolly family show has us eating out of its hand; as the Musselburgh chorus of local schoolchildren dance their hearts out and act their socks off, from beginning to end.

Until 2 Jan