This December the Traverse Theatre is home to Shona Reppe’s brilliant interpretation of the classic Grimm fairy tale Cinderella. It seems that the story has been adapted in every way imaginable, from Disney animation to Broadway musicals to cheesy Hilary Duff teen dramas. Cinderella has become a cliche of the fairy tale genre, but Reppe revives the tale with an unexpected twist: puppets.
For the past two decades, Shona Reppe has delighted children and adults alike in her work as an accomplished director and puppeteer. Reppe is known for quirky children’s productions such as Potato Needs a Bath (2008) and The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean (2011).
Cinderella was created in 2002 by Shona Reppe, Gill Robertson and Ian Cameron. Since its premiere, Cinderella has won numerous awards and toured across the world, including the United States, Japan, Australia, and Israel.
This show runs at just under an hour but is packed full of magic and humour. Rick Conte masterfully executes his role as the puppet master of the performance. Conte does it all, from the diligent and weepy Cinderella to the sassy fairy godmother. His performance of the evil stepsisters, represented by his gloved hands, is particularly hilarious. The sisters’ schemes and constant efforts to terrorise Cinderella are objectively horrifying, but it’s hard not to laugh as Conte’s hands traipse across the stage. Between the jokes and over-the-top personalities, the stepsisters are hands down the stars of the show.
Compared to the sisters, Cinderella has close to zero lines. Rather, she is built out of sneezes, and grunts. The audience doesn’t even get to see Cinderella joyfully triumph over her sisters in the final scene, instead, she unceremoniously sneaks out the door. Cinderella lacks character depth, but Reppe makes up for this with stylistic ingenuity. For example, Cinderella’s dreams after the ball are awash with bright, swirling colours which contrast with the ragged nature of the puppet Cinderella brilliantly.
The performance is clearly well-rehearsed and every minute detail has been assessed. This makes for seamless transitions between characters and scenes, and a continuously engaging show.
Reppe’s Cinderella takes us back to our childhood. She has created a delight for all audiences to watch. Children will be sitting on the edge of their seats, while adults can sit back and transport themselves into their childlike fantasies.
Runs until 24th December
Photo Credit: Ester Sundberg