Cinderella isn't a Pantomime - Oh yes it is!

This production of Cinderella by Kingston Bagpuize Drama Group was advertised as not being a Pantomime, but I couldn't tell the difference. Wicked stepmother, two not so ugly sisters, a Prince, Posh Balls, Fairy Godmother - am I missing something?

Admittedly, this wasn't your standard Christmas fare. This version of Cinderella was written by Stuart Paterson and had been performed at the National Theatre. Still, the work is not-so-loosely based on the famous fairy tale but includes a young noble character, Callum (Ruby Belcher) who is being held captive by Cinder's father (Mike Lacey) and made to work in his kitchen. Cinderella is banished to the kitchen and befriends Callum with the inevitable results, much to the chagrin of the Prince.

Cinderella was played by Rebecca Bellis who, for a girl of such tender years, I believe she is 15, put in a sterling, confident performance with no faltering lines or moves. If I had been wearing a hat I would have taken it off to her. Alas she was let down in some way by the lack of attention to her appearance for the Ball scenes, her hair for instance hadn't been touched and thereby failed to convince as a mysterious princess. Not Rebecca's fault I suspect.

A touch of magic was introduced by the Fairy Godmother (Mary-Elizabeth Shewry) who looked the part to the point of me wondering whether she could fix a lottery win. She did well to dodge the pyrotechnics announcing her various arrivals too.

The set left a little to be desired, though I did like the gates scene at the beginning and end of the production. In fairness there were umpteen scene changes but still the set didn't do it for me, a lack of finesse and attention to detail I thought. There was nothing regal about the ball scenes for instance though the scene changes were slick and unobtrusive.

The accompanying music and lighting was nicely chosen and executed so congratulations to Ian Ashby and Tom Forster then.

Director Rob Bateman used his stage to great effect. Manoeuvring up to fifteen characters around in such a tight area involves logistics similar to that needed in the Gulf War. Characters included Ben Young as the Black Douglas dog and a rather precocious dancing bear nimbly played by Abby Hallion-Gammon.

Now here I must bring the roles that stole the show for me. They not only held the performance together but stitched it tight, super glued it and threw it right at the audience who grabbed it and in packed house, lapped it up.

Paula Eastman was totally convincing as the obnoxious stepmother who obviously enjoyed the role with great costumes and hairstyles that made me wonder how she kept her balance. She introduced us to her two unsavoury offspring, her daughters Claudine (Emily Eastham) and Claudette (Kate Belcher). This pair should think of working these two characters into a professional act. They gelled together brilliantly, bouncing lines and indeed their bodies off each other in a drive to snare the Prince into marrying. These 'Chuckle Sisters' for me were the best natural comedy double act since Morecambe and Wise. Girls please find another work where you can reprise the parts.

So Cinderella was another success for the members of KBDG. With such young talent joining the Group we can be assured of quality drama in the village for years to come.