The Grimm brothers’ Aschenputtel is way from the anodyne model of Cinderella we regularly see now. When the pair recorded the folktale in 1812, it was a gothic story – with an unforgiving Calvinist morality – of a magic tree planted on a useless mom’s grave and of stepsisters who sliced off their heels and toes to suit into the golden shoe and whose eyes had been pecked out by birds as punishment for his or her misdeeds.
Alan Pollock’s bewitching adaptation takes us again to that unique however tempers its darkness – because the Grimm brothers themselves did in later, extra child-friendly editions of their tales. Cinderella (Tanya Bridgeman) nonetheless charms the birds from the magic tree and violence happens however with no seen bloodletting and loads of comedy. “Is this your toe?” the Prince asks a stepsister politely after she has chopped it off.
Exuberantly directed by Francesca Goodridge, the present begins with the brothers on stage, full with hammy German accents. They conceive the Cinderella story that begins to railroad them, pushing them apart and taking by itself life. The manufacturing has greater than a contact of Emma Rice, revelling in theatrical invention and mischief – a chase on stage turns into projected animation (by Bryony Collishaw and Benjamin Collins), a hen is a pretty puppet on a stick, flutteringly manipulated by Elzbieta Kalicka, and characters minimize down a tree merely with phrases: “Chop chop chop.”
Wilhelm Grimm turns into the Prince whereas Jakob tries to wrest again management of the narrative. It brings rip-roaring appeal and humour relatively than contrivance, however the meta nature turns into dizzying within the second half as Little Red Riding Hood intrudes into this story and actors undertake totally different voices for asides that aren’t clearly outlined. It seems like a surfeit of creativeness, fantastic albeit barely ungoverned.
There are puffs of smoke that summon up the magic and glowing showers of illumination in Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner’s lighting. The musicianship (clarinet, double bass, accordion and violins with composition by Tarek Merchant) is great and a few musicians double up dextrously in performing roles. The songs themselves are hit or miss, although, and there may be an occasional voiceover that feeds the comedy however seems like one kitsch step too far.
Jesse Ashby provides a standout efficiency because the bearded stepmother (amongst different characters) and with the stepsisters (Emily Panes and Anna Fordham), who’re ribboned, laughing bullies, they make a fantastically poisonous trio. The romance between the Prince (performed with hapless appeal by Matthew Romain) and Cinderella is beguiling – a younger, giddy and stuttering form of love.
The comedy suggestions into cartoonishness within the second half, dropping a number of the earlier delicacy and veering extra into panto mode. But that is turbo-charged stuff and the flat notes are forgiven for a better sense of magic.