Book early to avoid disappointment. Stephen Fry has written a pantomime version of Cinderella to be staged next Christmas at the Old Vic theatre in London. Oh yes he has.
Fry is not just a comic actor and raconteur. Oh no he isn’t. An accomplished writer, he is responsible for a large handful of books. He also earned tidy sums with his reworking in 1983 of Me and My Girl, the musical, which gives him tried and tested stage script credentials. Oh yes it does. Fry has no difficulty meriting a place in our pantheon of national treasures. Oh no he doesn’t. For all his plummy locution and toffish mannerisms, Fry’s appearances in Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster, and as compere of the Baftas, has wide appeal. He is well placed to take the pantomime formula and improve it. Oh yes he is.
The cross-dressing tradition of pantomime dames, coupled with Fry’s own tendency to delve into the language of the sewer for gags and bons mots, provides no shortage of openings for tasteless double entendres and savvy smut. These could also become tedious and appeal more to a knowing adult audience than impressionable youth. Oh yes they could. There is, happily for Fry and his doting public, little chance that another unfortunate episode of melancholia will strike Fry and prompt him to leave audiences in the lurch as he did in 1995 by fleeing to Belgium instead of treading West End boards.
So is Fry’s Cinderella set to be a Christmas cracker? As long as the naughtiness is nicely framed, and the deft Fry uses this most English of dramatic forms to display refined examples of his wonderful English wit, success is almost guaranteed. Oh yes it is.