Today we went to the relaxed performance of Cinderella at Bristol Hippodrome. Relaxed performances are specifically designed to welcome anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed performance environment. Including people on the autistic spectrum, sensory and communication disorders, or a learning difficulty.
There are small changes in the show to sound and lighting, plus the lights in the auditorium aren’t dropped. The other important aspect is that there is a more tolerant attitude towards noise and moving around in the audience. The hippodrome provide information beforehand to help prepare for the performance, including a visual summary of the show’s plot, and a visual guide to visiting the theatre. Finally the theatre also provides a chill out space, with sensory toys and a screen to watch the show for those who need a break from the auditorium.
For my autistic son, who has previously hidden in the footwell with his hands over his ears due to overwhelming volume during a performance of a musical, the relaxed performance is far more enjoyable. Without the sensory overload and behavioural expectations he can focus on the show and seems calmer and happier in the theatre.
For me it was an easier experience. Though I would be less likely to outwardly show distress I do find the usual volumes in theatres difficult and feel more comfortable with the levels at the relaxed performance. Also there is something really special about being in an atmosphere of tolerance where additional needs don’t feel like an inconvenience.
I really enjoyed Cinderella. It was a fun, well crafted show with an enthusiastic cast who appeared completely unfazed by the unusual atmosphere in the audience.
The stars of the show were Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill playing Cinderella’s fairy godparents. My favourite part of the performance was their adapted Bolero on roller blades including some arial silks tricks.
Jarred Christmas (who we recognised as the Joke Master from CBBC’s the Joke Machine) was wonderful as Buttons. He was funny, quirky and very likeable.
Rhianne Chesterman and Blair Gibson played Cinderella and Prince Charming perfectly. Both with good singing voices and an ease on stage that made them easy to watch.
Samuel Holmes was very good as Dandini. With tons of camp charisma and a lovely voice he was easily my favourite actor in this performance.
Tim Hudson and Charles Brunton played Saffron and Wasabi the ugly sisters. Their costumes were fab-u-lous, my favourite being Wasabi’s champagne and bubbles dress paired with Saffron in a spa tub creation. Their rendition of pineapple pen amused my little You Tube fans.
This was pantomime at its best. Glitzy, cheesy and fun. We had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
Cinderella is at Bristol Hippodrome until January 8th, for tickets and more information visit http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/cinderella/bristol-hippodrome/. For information about all upcoming ATG access performances visit http://www.atgtickets.com/access/show-and-theatre-access-information/