Cinderella at Citizens Theatre gets the pitch absolutely right

An all-ages show that foregoes the usual doe-eyed Disney cliches of simpering princesses

Far too many pantos still cling to hackneyed tropes. Stuart Paterson's riff on Cinderella is that rare thing: an all-ages show that gets the pitch absolutely right, without ever resorting to treacly sentimentality or dumbing down its message. Everything fits, from the magical clockwork of Gabriella Slade's gorgeous set design, to the fantastic ensemble work. There's even some room to boo and hiss here, and a couple of actors climb into the stalls, eliciting delighted squeals from the children.

Foregoing the usual doe-eyed Disney cliches of simpering princesses (Sinead Sharkey's Cinders is actually a little bit of a difficult madam) the young girl is allowed to be headstrong, independent and doesn't necessarily welcome the amorous advances of her Prince Charming. A wonderful Nicholas Ralph camps it up like a young Rupert Everett as the spoilt royal (and the kitchen dog Black Douglas, who gets his own lovely plot twist) and the issues of poverty, consent and agency are presented in a subtle way.

There's superb support too, from the grotesque trio of Claudia (Irene Allan) and her wicked daughters Claudette (Caroline Deyga) and Claudine (Hannah Howie) whose cartoon violence is hilarious. Sergeant Puff, a pompous cook deliriously played by Peter Collins elicits sympathy and humour as a stuffed shirt allergic to fun, a man out of time. And the world weary king (Malcolm Shields, who also brings hip-swinging choreography) has classic 'Glasgow wee man syndrome' within his role. Ultimately, Dominic Hill's direction triumphs and the inventive script by Paterson is allowed light, shade and some utterly surreal moments.

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until Sun 31 Dec

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