Hans Christian Anderson’s Scandinavian fairy tale The Tinderbox comes to life this Christmas at the Charing Cross Theatre. Set beneath the rustic railway arches, this intimate venue is the perfect backdrop to see an all-time festive favourite.
Written and performed by Mandy Holliday, this rendition is a fun-filled pantomime suited to audiences of all ages. The classic tale begins with an old witch on the hunt for a tinderbox, who enlists the help of a lonely, poor soldier. This war veteran, Brian the Brave, falls madly in love with Princess Beautiful and sets his sights on marrying her. With the help of the willing audience, the characters must overcome every obstacle to reach their happy ending.
The dialogue is endearing and stays true to the story whilst offering a modern twist. It speaks to both adult and child with its moments of slightly more mature humour dotted within the playful narrative. Although it only lasts an hour and ten minutes, The Tinderbox manages to captivate its viewers and maintain their attention throughout.
This isn’t a visually impressive play with a massive budget, it has no epic scenery or expensive props. It often looks a little make-shift and the audience really needs to stretch their imagination to compensate for this, but the play’s merits lie in both the script and the acting
And the acting really is exceptional. Mandy Holiday shines through as the Wicked Queen and The Old Witch. Samuel J. Weir, starring as Brian the Brave, displays excellent improvisation skills, replying hilariously to the shouts from both the parents and the children. Ceris Hine’s performance as The Gold Dog and the Queen’s knight is a highlight of the panto and her ability to take on her roles with such comedic effect is impressive.
The Tinderbox is a minimalist, no-frills panto with a script and a cast worth taking the time to see. Children will love it and, secretly, the adults will too.
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