Shona Reppe’s re-imagining of the classic tale of Cinderella settles into the Traverse theatre this Christmas season with a quiet charm and soft laughter.
Rick Conte performs this 50 minute puppet show single-handedly (or double-handedly if you consider his portrayal of the two ugly stepsisters: a fluffy glove on each hand with googly eyes), and is met with wide appeal. The audience oo and aah along with him, giggle at his well-timed facial expressions, and he is generally a amiable narrator. He even performs a small magic trick to keep the little ones rapt with excitement. The story sticks to what is familiar, although even some gory bits are kept in as a nod to the original, darker fairytale, but the humour is consistent and would provide a unique experience for parents with young children. Additionally, it is a relief to see the Cinderella puppet is hardly anything more than cloth on string; there are no scary, uncanny valley marionettes here.
What the show captures with its soft charm and miniscule set made of drawers, small cupboards, and fold-out, pop-up flats, it fails to keep up the pace and the intrigue. It takes its time to get comfortable, to overcome its awkwardness, and by the time it manages to tug at the heart strings during the ballroom dance sequence, it is swiftly over. The puppetry itself comes across as awkward, and lacking in character, and it is overall difficult to be immersed. However, the kids in the audience were laughing and interacting, and burst into huge applause at the end: the toughest audience have spoken.