Cinderella is back in town, but this time it is not the fluffy, pantomime fairytale you might be expecting. Matthew Bourne brings his dark version of this classic love story to Nottingham.

Set in 1940’s war torn London, this version is a far cry from the light-hearted, magical tale of our downtrodden Cinderella and her quest for her Prince Charming.

Cinderella (Ashley Shaw) is living in an unhappy household complete with her wicked step-mother (Madelaine Brennan), two ugly step-sister’s (Sophia Hurdley and Anjali Mehra) and additional three step-brother’s (Jackson Fisch, Dan Wright and Mark Samaras) one of whom has a very creepy foot fetish…disturbing at times! Cinderella’s father (Alan Vincent) is still alive, but is wheelchair bound and not aware of the misery going on around him. Cinderella suffers at the hands of her cruel step-family, they taunt her relentlessly, her life is a very unhappy one. Until one day an injured soldier with amnesia hammers at their door, she lets him in and tries to care for him, immediately falling for her handsome pilot. Of course her family seek to ruin this for her and scare him away.

Convinced there is nothing left at home for her, she packs her minimal belongings, which include her favourite shoes, and takes to the streets of London to look for her ‘Prince’.

As the air raid siren sounds and the bombs rain down on London, Cinderella is caught up in the big Blitz. Will she come out alive and find her prince? A fairy godmother in this story is an Angel (Liam Mower), sent to help Cinderella…will he succeed?

Reminiscent of a Gothic tale you would find on the big screen, Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella is a refreshing twist on the chintzy, bubbly, boy meets girl fairy tales we know and love.

The dancers were absolutely flawless and mesmerising to watch, the characters came across so wonderfully in their dance interpretation. The creepy step-brother was suitably disturbing and made me cringe on many occasions!

My favourite scene was the ‘Cafe de Paris’ scene after the Blitz, very haunting but beautifully done and based on real-life events. The set was amazing and had so much attention to detail for each scene. The projections were fantastic and the sounds far too realisitc for my liking. I have this strange phobia of air raid sirens, so each time one played I got the sweats and had to cover my ears! There were warnings outside the auditorium regarding the air raids.

At times, there was so much going on I didn’t know what to watch, I wanted to see all of it. If I was watching the main characters then I would miss funny bits at the side, if I watched the sides I would miss the main action. Apart from that the production was intense but beautiful, charming but real and sad but powerful.

Some children may find this a bit too much to handle, it might not be what they are expecting, on at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham now.

Photos by Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella