Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Wicked Christmas: Cinders' Revenge" - December 2009

Okay... NOW it's nearly Christmas. The Citz Community Company are back with the fourth instalment of their ‘Wicked Christmas’ shows – this year subtitled “Cinders’ Revenge” and featuring scenes/sketches inspired by the Cinderella story. As in previous years this is a dark (read ‘obscene’) and cynical (read ‘expletive filled’) show and most definitely not one for the kids.

This seemed a more ‘even’ show than previous years – perhaps not quite hitting the individual highs as last year, but equally not suffering from the occasional ‘dips’ that we have sometimes encountered. It was also much more balanced in tone and written to a much tighter theme than before – evidence the writers are capable of writing to a brief rather than just coming up with ideas for a sketch. It made for a very coherent piece of theatre that flowed comfortably from one segment to the next, however we did notice the absence of some of the more thought-provoking or poignant moments that in the past served to remind us that Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone. But given the state of the real world, they are probably right to just aim to distract and entertain us for the night. And we were most certainly entertained…

John MacNeil and Eddie Donoghue made for a rather different type of 'ugly sisters' along with Sashah Park Mason’s shoeshopaholic in Catherine Chan's excellent “A Right Pair” while Patricia Preston's “Who’s Baby?” gave us a very funny (and all too realistic) version of a Jeremy Kyle style show as we find out whether Cindy's baby's father is Prince or Buttons. We really liked what we heard of Judith Hastie’s parody of The Smith’s “This Charming Man” but there wasn’t sufficient volume to make out many of the lyrics, but she did go on to give a very impressive performance opposite Neil Bratchpiece in his hilarious “The Wee Man and Cinderella”. She also wrote "Horace and Morace" - a very funny (and filthy) piece well performed by MacNeil and Alan Ward.

There were no such volume concerns for Frances Rose Kelly and her "Cinders' Peace" which held the audience in rapt attention. Bratchpiece teamed up later with Gary Rowlands as Cinders’s dog-and-horse-turned-coachmen to great comic effect but for me the performance of the night came from Tom Beattie in Anne Marie McLeod’s "Stupit Stories" - a critical examination of the Cinderella story.

But those are only our favourites - all of the segments were well written and performed by a great cast. Of course director Neil Packham will have played a significant role in the success both of the production and the Community Company as a whole, and Neil Haynes has created a striking set.

As we mentioned before, Wicked Christmas sold out its entire run well in advance (and before we had the chance to book), so big thanks to Helen at the Citz who kindly offered to arrange tickets for us that had been held back for the press - which we did of course insist on paying for.

Wicked Christmas: Cinders' Revenge runs in the Citizens Circle Studio until 19th December
Image by Tim Morozzo used with permission