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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cinderella, Citizens Theatre review

Published in The Guardian


Citizens, Glasgow

4 out of 5

Most archetypal stories keep their psychological significance buried beneath the surface. Not so this Cinderella. As playwright Alan McHugh has it, this is a tale about the need for a good mother. And to underline the point, the mother shows up from beyond the grave.

Like every Cinderella, Helen McAlpine has to cope with a domestic imbalance. Her stepmother verges on the psychotic; her stepsisters are preening narcissists; and her father is either absent or ineffectual. Nothing is as it should be, apart from Cinderella, whose turn-the-other-cheek goodness stops just short of passive-aggressive. "Why are you so nice to us?" asks one of the stepsisters, mystified.

What is different here, however, is that Angelica, the fairy godmother, is not a fairy at all. Instead, she is the fading ghost of Cinderella's own mother, unable to find peace until her daughter and husband are content. She represents not simply good fortune, but a symbol of the moral qualities absent in her daughter's life.

It means the union between Cinder-ella and her prince is less a fluke win for the servant girl than a victory for the maternal values of nurture and love. It's what makes the conclusion of Jeremy Raison's production so affecting, even as Cara Kelly's wicked stepmother gets her eyes pecked out by crows.

It sounds maudlin, but the children are too hooked on the storytelling to notice the darker strands and, although some of the comedy falls flat, it is a lively and inventive production. With a lush, romantic live score by Claire McKenzie and a gorgeous circular set of Freudian doors opening onto a dark and dangerous wood by Jason Southgate, it is as sober as it is nourishing.

© Mark Fisher 2009

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