**please note, photos are not mine. Credit to Hessle Theatre Company.**
As part of my prize from the HEY bloggers event, I won tickets to see the Hessle Theatre company’s production of ‘Soho Cinders’, a refreshingly cool twist on that old classic Cinderella! What a Tuesday night treat!
The story set in Soho, London; Old Compton Street to be exact where Velcro, a pretty blonde twentysomething-year-old is working at a Laundrette.
This Laundrette is technically owned by her best friend Robbie, The protagonist of the story, who is gay. He has been seeing an older gentleman by the name of Lord Bellingham. He doesn’t love him but appreciates his company greatly. Robbie wants more than this though, looking for his soulmate.
London mayoral candidate James Prince is canvassing for votes when he meets Clodagh and Dana, which are Robbie’s very funny yet deceptive stepsisters. Lord Bellingham is a supporter of James Prince’s mayoral campaign and organises a party at his estate for James; however, before this happens, James and Robert meet in Trafalgar Square and they fall madly in love with each other despite the fact that James is married to Marilyn, a lawyer.
Robbie is asked to go to the party by Lord Bellingham and to stay overnight, which he isn’t comfortable with but feeling he has no choice, he goes to the party unbeknownst to him, that the party is actually for James! When he arrives at the party, there was an awkward encounter as Lord Bellingham realises that James and Robbie are involved in a tryst, which concludes the first act.
Throughout the first act, Velcro acts as support and the voice of reason for Robbie, bringing the whole plot together nicely!
After the interval we return to where we left off where Bellingham starts to question Robbie and probe him about his encounters with James. Feeling a little bit like a rentboy, Robbie tells Bellingham he can’t continue to see him and angrily, Bellingham holds Robbie until he runs away and in doing so drops his phone. Marilyn grabs the phone in an effort to understand what’s been happening between her husband and Robbie.
Robbie goes to Trafalgar Square; James knows he will be there, so he tries to talk to Robbie, who explains the situation with Bellingham. James knows that if this information was to be divulged to the papers, his mayoral campaign would be over and leaves an emotional Robbie hastily., doubting his political future.
The following day, James and Marilyn talk and he admits that he has been seeing Robbie behind her back. Later, a phone rings- it’s Robbie’s phone and Marilyn answers. It was Velcro calling and Marilyn uses this as an opportunity to come face-to-face with Robbie.
Marilyn goes to the Laundrette where she meets Velcro for the first time. She explains to Velcro that she always knew that James was secretly gay because he had an eye for the boys when they went to University. Robbie arrives at the Laundrette – Marilyn is shocked to see him but he offers her a sincere, heartfelt apology about the situation and he tells Velcro that he needs to leave his life! His life is in tatters and soon the press will know everything and he will become the centre of the media’s attention. Velcro discusses Robbie’s mothers will whilst in the laundrette where Marilyn agrees to help them find a copy of the will.
At the end of the act, James is giving an honest political speech confirming the events that took place with Robbie. His selfish campaign manager, William tried to convince him to give a completely different statement but Marilyn, who still deeply loved James, convinced him to be honest with himself and with the world because he can’t go wrong with honesty. At the end of his speech, James runs to the station in the hope he will meet Robbie in time before he leaves for good! We are not disappointed with the ending! James leaves on the train with Robbie for their fairytale ending whilst Velcro waves them goodbye in the distance.
The acting, singing and the cast
I thought this was a wonderful tale of love above all things with very modern and relevant twist. Joe Spence, who played Robbie played with a sense of vulnerability and made the storyline feel very realistic. His relationship with Christian Brodie, who played James Prince was excellent. Although Brody has a wife and two kids, he was fully committed to the role of a gay man and it was beautiful to watch!
It has to be said that the vocal talent of Georgia Wormald who played Velcro was absolutely outstanding! My husband and I both felt that she was the strongest vocalist and I could listen to her sing all day! All of the actors had relatively good singing voices but she really stood out.
The acting and commitment from all of team was brilliant- from main character to ensemble, everybody committed and gave 110% to their role! Luke Cardwell gets a special mention. He plays the campaign manager, William who is akin to the evil stepmother figure in the traditional Cinderella. He was truly evil and he must’ve acted very well because I hated him by the end!
For me, there are three people who really made this production. Rachel Adamson, who played Dana and Georgina Garton who played Clodagh were absolutely incredible. They both had an immense connection with the audience, well timed jokes and their accents were on point too! What really shocked me is how brilliant their vocals were during their songs. They blew me away and made it a very memorable performance.
Additionally Mrs Gavinia Edwards, a drag queen, played the narrator. She came into the foyer before the show to interact and communicate with the audience and when we entered the theatre she was also communicating with us too, making us feel very at home before the production had even began. It was such a lovely touch from Hessle Theatre Company and the only time I have ever seen this done before was during the West End production of ‘Once.’
I feel it is important to mention the ensemble. Their presence in the different parts of the act was pivotal and they supported the main actors incredibly well. I must also offer my congratulations to the choreographer and director, Richard Foot. The choreography worked superbly in limited space.
My main reservations do not lie with Hessle Theatre Company. It’s actually lives with Hull Truck Theatre. For instance the theatre was freezing and I spent the entire performance very cold. In addition to this, during the interval I went to the bar for refreshment and order 2 pints of Coke. At nearly six pounds, it was a bit of a shock but I can appreciate theatre pricing.
However, one of the ladies working on the bar had really poor customer service skills when I complained that my drink didn’t taste right. It is such a shame as it reflects really poorly on the theatre when most of the staff are actually lovely.
My Overall Thoughts
This production is above and beyond the standard of any amateur or semi professional theatre company I’ve ever seen and at £16.50 a ticket, I feel it really is brilliant value for money. I think you would be hard pressed to find another production of this type run as smoothly and as professionally and I honestly felt at points, if I had closed my eyes I wouldn’t have known the difference between this group of actors or a West End cast.
Massive congratulations to everybody involved. I had a wonderful night with a brilliant group of girls and husband and would absolutely recommend a visit to watch your production.
If you would like to go see Soho Cinders, you still have time! This production runs until the 8th of September at Hull Truck Theatre!