Cinderella: the classic tale of a poor girl visited by a fairy godmother, her rags turned to riches and her pumpkin turned into a carriage. She meets a handsome Prince, he chases her around the kingdom with her missing (presumably smelly) shoe, and they all live happily ever after. Throw in the evil stepmother and trusty buttons, and you’ve got a good-to-go British pantomime. Have all the characters played by drag queens (and a single king) however, and you’ve got quite a different show. TuckShop brings us this drag-infused version, starring Baby as down and out Cinderella, Ophelia Love and Veronica Green as the ugly sisters and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Baga Chipz as stepmother. Packed full of gags, innuendos and silly British humour (see tube sign that reads ‘BONDAGE STREET’) it’s certainly an alternative to the season’s usual offerings.
We begin with Britain’s Got Talent alumni Sheila Simmonds, welcoming us all and introducing the show. She’s funny and obviously great at rousing an audience but is soon outshone by the next cast member we’re introduced to: Holly Stars as Buttons. With jokes about Priti Patel and Prince Andrew (which I genuinely can’t decide whether they are distasteful or not), she is undeniably funny and remains so throughout. Almost everything that comes out of her mouth gets a laugh. Same goes for Ophelia Love as one of the ugly sisters, who repeatedly brings the lols. Her humour is bloody silly but hey, it works. She throws the least shade and still remains one of the stand-out Queens, which can’t be an easy feat.
Baby as Cinders is mesmerising as she delivers a classic drag performance, complete with reveals, lip-syncing and death drops. The star of the show is, of course, supposed to be Baga Chipz. She emerges midway through looking gorgeous – but she doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself very much. She throws in her catchphrases “much betta!” and “very very harsh”, but she doesn’t seem particularly enthralled to be there, not as enthralled the audience is that she’s there, anyway.
While the whole thing is a lot of fun, there is an air of cheapness about it that I can’t entirely see past, not when tickets go for up to £65 a pop. The set is made of cardboard boxes and the show has a strong whiff of school play about it. The cast repeatedly miss cues and lines, so often that I begin to wonder if it’s part of the script. I love a fumble and a laugh as much as the next girl, but it gets to the point where it’s genuinely frustrating. I don’t wish to sound “very very harsh,” but it feels as though the whole thing was put together the day before. It’s unprofessional in places and extremely messy, however, the talented cast members save it from being a total disaster. Fans of Drag Race will likely love this show, but if you’re indifferent, I’d spend my money on something a little more polished.
Cinderella is playing at Trafalgar Studios until 5 January. For more information, visit the ATG Tickets website.