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CINDERELLA, LYCEUM, EDINBURGH

HHHH

If you're going to take risks with traditions, then the Christmas production is not necessarily a bad time to go off the beaten track: most children only expect what parents tell them. Lyceum director Mark Thomas has boldly opted to recruit writer Johnny McKnight (who revitalised pantomime at Stirling's MacRobert), ally him with composer Alan Penman and let them loose on that perennial favourite, Cinderella.

For sure, this well-acted and good-looking modern day version is not really a panto – though it does have a couple of sisters who are all trashy-glam on the outside, deep-down ugly on the inside and consistently funny with it. Colette (Nicola Roy) and Camille (Jo Freer) are well-schooled in the trademark ways of McKnight mouthy middens. Their mother, the malevolent Monique (Jayne McKenna) is posh tottie in clinging dominatrix leather with an electrifying (literally) touch, but her offspring are pure dead common and their killing ways are courtesy of McKnight's snippy-sniping comedy flair.

This trio wangle their way into Cinderella's life and take over. Can the ghost of her mother come to the rescue? Will she see through Prince Pierre, no blue-blood but a fake-baked, hilariously arrogant TV celeb who needs a wife to boost his ratings? Sly parodies of popular trends mix with the perennial conflict between good – the maternal spirit who is always exquisitely airborne – and the nightmarish menace of Monique. Between times, tuneful songs colour in the emotional subtext that draws Cinderella towards true love, and the mysterious Boy who can never speak his heart. It's a form of music-theatre that won't be to all tastes or suit younger audiences, but it does grip the imagination with a shock and sizzle, rather like Monique's caress.

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