Theatre Review – Cinderella Published: May 12th, 2010 * * * * * The Uglies get dressed... Scottish Storytelling Centre By Thom Dibdin
With a wave of her magic feather duster and leaving a sprinkling of fairy dust in her wake, Shona Reppe enchants and enthrals children and grownups alike with her puppet version of Cinderella – which is at the Scottish Storytelling Centre all this week as part of the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival of theatre for Children and Young People.
Reppe’s magic lies in her detail. She demands the attention by that well known theatrical trick of dusting the auditorium – and the delighted audience – before her discovery of a trail of notes leading across the darkening stage.
“Help!” each note cries out in her tiny, fragile voice, as she is led to her chintzy magician’s table, centre stage. “Help!” they cry as she sets the tabletop with the mop, duster and kitchen equipment Cinderella will need. “Help!” they cry as she opens a drawer to discover the dusty, bedraggled Cinders.
And suddenly, Shona Reppe’s magic trick is complete. She has transformed a raggle-taggle bag of groaning, mind-wandering, snot-picking six year-olds into the most attentive audience any performer could ever want. They still comment: “That’s really scary” whispers one as Cinders teeters up a table lamp to whisk dust off the very top. But there is no dissent.
It is scary, too, as Cinderella almost tumbles. Of course she makes it down and has soon turned on Radio Pumpkin’s easy-listening tunes to accompany her late night cleaning. And catch details of a breaking news story concerning a prince and ball with invites for all.
The story started and the mood set, Reppe continues to weave her magic. There are no other puppets for her to manipulate, however. Cinderella’s father is the sound of footsteps passing as she looks up, endearing and hopeful that he will notice her. Never, in all the Cinderellas ever, has he been so heartless.
The Uglies in all their finery
The stepsisters are shimmering gloves which Reppe pulls on with a look of delight, and dresses in bangles and fake-fur trim. Oh, such wanton kitsch! Oh the excess of bling! As the gloves fight and preen, it says everything you could want about the classic image of nouveau riche Uglies but in a manner that is, in keeping with Reppe’s neat, elfin appearance, utterly refined.
The Uglies allow Reppe to take the story right to the edge, too. They hold Cinders up over an open fire for sport. And are happy to hack away parts of their own feet when the glass slipper is sent round after the ball. Yet there is never outright fear, just the frisson of danger which makes the whole play real.
As for the fairy godmother, that’s Reppe herself. Adding a shimmer to her all-black outfit, she sends Cinders off to the ball and steps out to entertain with a few more magic tricks. After all, we didn’t have invites, did we.
It all adds up to a must-see experience. It gives its young audience the space to use their imagination. And will thrill any adult who is still prepared to use theirs.
NEW YORK REVIEWS:
nytheatre.com review Rohana Elias-Reyes · September 19, 2009
Is it possible to put a fresh spin on the old and oft-retold Cinderella? In Shona Reppe's capable hands, the answer is yes. The skillful puppeteer's gently goofy take on the classic fairytale is punctuated by inventive twists, including an absent stepfather in place of the evil stepmother, a jaunty jazz score and a handful of diverse puppets—all manipulated by Reppe—portraying the characters. This Cinderella comes stateside as part of the New Victory Scottish Festival after a successful run at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and it's a bonny affair from the start. Reppe, who’s visible throughout behind the tabletop stage, has a lilting brogue that makes her words sound like song. Much of the show’s magic lies in her nimble fingers and her interactions with her inanimate cast. With her dainty air and animated features, she seems to channel Tinker Bell, down to her platinum-blond pixie 'do. Cinderella, a primitive-looking wooden doll, is the only traditional puppet. The other characters are mostly conjured via evocative sound effects, except for the evil stepsisters, who are embodied by a pair of garish gloves. Although initially confusing, this conceit quickly becomes clear and is quite amusing, especially as they prep for the ball, Reppe’s hands prancing around in vain glory. The unconventional approach to the story—the prince and the ball take place offstage—and slyly placed witticisms keep grown-ups engrossed. Those sitting farther back may have a hard time catching the tiny details, but even so, Reppe's work so charming, it's sure to provide your brood with a happy ending.—Eleni Crush Read more: http://newyorkkids.timeout.com/articles/theater/78877/cinderella-at-the-duke-on-42nd-street-theater-review#ixzz0S1YfNsNa
Shona Reppe (Puppets) is a limited company registered in Scotland and recognised as a Scottish Charity, Company number 267273. Charity Number SC035750 Registered Office: Catherine Wheels, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, EH21 6AF, Producer/Administrative Support: Louise Gilmour Wills