Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Cinderella at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton review

On Monday night we were privileged to be among some of the first people to see 2016's Christmas performance at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. This Winter Cinderella is brought to us in a completely different way, via the rats who live with her in the cinders and ashes...

The Octagon is a lovely intimate theatre in the round, and the whole audience feel very close to the performers. My 6 and 8 year old boys hadn't been before and were incredibly impressed and excited. In the centre of the stage area were a collection of musical instruments, which started much debate about what was going to happen.

The actors were great, not only acting and singing, but playing all of their own musical accompaniment. The instruments in the centre of the stage were never removed, only moved to the sides and used, and were perfect for a Winter tale with lots of metallic percussion. Chimes are just spot on for Prince Charming's Ball.

The actors all had make up and costumes suited to rats, also playing the parts of all of the characters in the Cinderella story. The heaps of fabric and 'dust bunnies' lying around the edges of the stage became some amazing costume changes. This worked really well, and was very impressive.

The whole show lasts around 1 hour 45 minutes, with a 20 minute interval midway. This was also a new experience for my boys, who were confused thinking that the story had finished incomplete. It's lovely when they experience something like that for the first time, and you are reminded how naive and innocent they can be!

Unlike a lot of modern takes on traditional tales, this performance retains the entire story of Cinderella, her evil Step-mother and the ugly sisters. I really like that. Cinderella as we know it was written over 300 years ago and is still popular because it's a great tale, it doesn't necessarily need re-imagining. This performance adds plenty, in a completely unobtrusive way, and loses nothing.

I loved that the cast took advantage of the entire auditorium space, and lights and sound were also fully utilised to completely fill the room and create a feeling of real grandeur. Even when she was sitting 2 feet away, Cinderella's beautiful ballgown was stunning, and it carries a surprise which I won't spoil for you.

Outstanding performances by a multi-talented cast, unforgettable costumes, beautiful use of lighting, and music that really was a joy to our ears (and actually very festive). A fabulous slapstick-free Christmas Fairy Tale.

Written by Mike Kenny, with additional lyrics by Ivan Stott, music by Rob Hiley and directed by Ben Occhipinti, Cinderella stars Lucy Faint as Cinderella, and Alexander Bean, Alicia McKenzie, Anne O'Riordan, Felicity Sparks and Tom Wolstenholme as the rats...and everyone else.

Image Credit Richard Davenport

Cinderella is playing at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton until January 14th. It is really best suited for children school-aged and over (no babes-in-arms are permitted). Ticket prices £10-£25, with a family ticket starting at £40 and discounts for groups of 4+. An excellent family night out. Find out more and book tickets via the Octagon Theatre Bolton website

Most of the images in this post are taken from the Cinderella programme available before the show. It's well worth picking one up, as it's written in a way that is accessible to children and full of interesting articles about Cinderella and her history and origin, as well as rehearsal photos, information about the cast and activities. An excellent memento.

We were invited to a press showing for review.


  1. This looks fab. Definitely something I'd take my kids too x

    1. It was lovely - my boys really enjoyed it and were actually talking about it today :)

  2. It's truly a great performance. And all the actors must be exhausted by the end as it's so very energetic. I would recommend this to all ages. The music is magical too.

    1. Thanks Gilly! The music really is magical, the tubular bells are just gorgeous. I didn't comment on the actors being exhausted, but they really must be after all of that running about!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment :)


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