UGLY! Review

Lanternhouse Theatre, Cumbernauld – until 30th December 2023

Reviewed by Marcus Richardson


It’s Panto season! One of my favourite things about this time of year. The songs, the laughs and the ever so wacky plot.

I had the joy of going to Lanternhouse in Cumbernauld, a town just outside of Glasgow. I went to see UGLY!, a retelling of Cinderella, however this time from the perspective of one of the Ugly Stepsisters. Told through the eyes of Chantelle (Lauren Ellis Steele), the step sister who hates being called ugly, and wishes she was someone loveable.

The play is set in the fantastical, yet familiar kingdom called Wondernauld, a place with princes, fairies and also KFCs and BnMs. The script written by Gary McNair, is filled with local jokes, yet also humour someone far afield could also understand. I was constantly laughing throughout the whole show, and when I say laughing I was absolutely howling. Jo Rush, the Director of the show really elevated the performance, there were no pacing issues, the lines hit the audience, there were literally no issues in the whole show.

Steele, played the main character, while it is just a panto, she did play it with a lot of depth and emotion. We saw her good, bad and… ugly. She was so easy to connect to, I really want her to be my friend. I love a wicked stepmum (Jo Freer) in Scotland we say Maw though. Freer as the Maw is a masterclass into panto villain, capturing the hatred we have for the character, yet we can’t help but love how iconic they are. Her lines were delivered perfectly, her presence on the stage draws you in, the kids loved to hate her. You can’t have a fairytale without a fairy (Lawrence Boothman), an overly camp and energetic bundle of nothing but positive energy, a man in a large frilly pink frock. Boothman, captured that nuance in panto of including humour just for the adults, and I have thanks for that. Finally in our small cast with the character of Cinderella (Eva Beattie), I dare say the most normal character of them all, she sung with such glee and played a convincing bloke, at one point. Beattie, seemed to have the smallest role, but that didn’t stop her from bringing the performance.

The Show will be running until the 30th December, so there is plenty of time to go and watch UGLY!, with how close it is to Glasgow and other places within the central belt of Glasgow, it’s an easy and short trip for such an incredible performance.