Theatre Review: The Uglies (Oran Mor)

Dave Anderson and George Drennan in The Uglies
Dave Anderson and George Drennan in The Uglies

You can always trust the team at the Oran Mor to put a clever contemporary twist on panto classics - and this year is no exception.

Running as part of the venue’s popular lunchtime ‘A Play, A Pie, and a Pint’ strand throughout December, the annual festive performances written by Dave Anderson and Dave MacLennan have become as much of a Glasgow tradition as the pantomimes at the King’s or Pavilion Theatres (productions which they relish poking fun at).

‘The Uglies’ takes the story of Cinderella and turns it on its head - concentrating on the oft-villified ugly sisters Malicia and Malevola rather than the worthy-but-dull heroine. “It’s not about her”, is the exasperated cry from the siblings whenever the c-word is mentioned.

Of course, as ever, the plot is just a vehicle for a series of adults-only songs, skits and sketches performed by the uniformly excellent cast.

Starting as they mean to go on, it launches with foul-mouthed verbal ‘backstage’ sparring between Anderson and George Drennan dressing up as the facially-challenged sisters.

The duo are regularly tear-inducingly funny as they attempt to lie and cheat their way to a life of privilege at the expense of their poor set-upon stepsister.

Providing heart, and a sublime singing voice, to proceedings is Frances Thorburn playing the dual role of Cinderella and Buttons.

In her hands Buttons is wonderfully transformed into a sexually frustrated teen, chasing after the vodka loving Cinders in the form of a filthy duet.

Juliet Cadzow completes the cast as a suitably evil stepmother and the lisping, lustful ‘Ginger Prince’.

The centrepiece is a royal ball thrown by the thinly-disguised Prince Harry which provides an excuse to weigh into the independence debate with surprisingly even-handedness, with plenty to offend both sides.

The ending, when it comes, provides a welcome injection of feminism into the fairytale chauvinism of the original.

The inevitable singalong before the audience are released back out onto Byres Road feeling triumphantly festive.

The Uglies runs every lunchtime until December 21.

All advance tickets are now sold out but the venue holds a number of tickets back to be sold at the door. Get there early to be sure of a seat.