Monday, October 18

The Not So Ugly Sisters – Leeds Playhouse

The producers of Wicked have made a fortune retelling a classic story and now Wrongsemble are subverting a much loved children’s tale for younger theatre goers.

They have great fun through song, dance, some corny gags and lots of physical comedy challenging what we think we know about Cinderella’s so called ugly sisters.

Dolly and Barb are rattling round their hairdressing salon watching their baby sister getting married to Prince Smarming, and they’ve not been invited due to endless tabloid battering portraying them as the panto villains of this royal love story. Sound familiar?

The demonising has left them with a phone that only rings for blow dry cancellations, so they take the time to tell their version of the classic story. The energy and inventiveness of this pacey two hander delights a masked family audience who are regularly drawn into the action panto style, and it’s always the mark of any decent kids’ show when the fourth wall is gleefully breached.

Elvi Piper’s breezy script offers a timely message in a world where our latest fairy tale princess is being torn to pieces by misogynists and trolls, although ideas like ‘changing the narrative’ might well sail over the heads of their target audience. The adults in the room will certainly be left thinking about their children’s exposure to toxic social media, and like most shows these days aimed at younger audiences there is also plenty of material aimed at the grown-ups, including a sly Chekhov gag.

Like all great shows for younger theatre devotees it all hinges on the energy of the performers. Local actors Daisy Ann Fletcher and Lucy Rafton have a real chemistry bouncing off each on the amusing dance numbers, and both have strong singing voices.

Fletcher brings a charming naivety to Dolly who is more obviously cut up about the rift with Cinders, and she is a gifted physical comic.  Rafton has more to do with Barb, who is more cynical on the surface for reasons that eventually become apparent, and she really belts out a couple of composer Claire Marie Seddon’s big numbers.

Short, sharp and funny, with a neat twist at the end, The Not So Ugly Sisters manages to combine some good life lessons and being as daft as the brushes used in the sister’s salon.4

The Not So Ugly Sisters plays the 2nd – 5th June. Book online www.leedsplayhouse.org.uk or over the phone on 0113 213 7700.

Reviewer: Paul Clarke

Reviewed: 3rd June 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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