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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. My feature writing covers celebrity interviews, human interest stories, restaurant reviews, travel articles and opinion pieces, as well as theatre, music and art reviews. Publications I write for include The Guardian, Scotland on Sunday, the Sunday Times, The Herald and The Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Monday, December 03, 2012

Cinderella, theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

Three stars

IT'S impressive enough that Johnny McKnight is writing, directing and starring in Aganeza Scrooge at Glasgow's Tron this season, but somehow he has also managed to field two Cinderellas. At the MacRobert in Stirling, there's an updated revival of his 2007 panto, while here in Edinburgh, he has turned in a musical version set – for reasons best known to himself – in modern-day Paris.

The concept is that Martin McCormick's unfeasibly hunky Prince Pierre is on the hunt for a partner to join him in a reality TV show. Chief among his acolytes are the trashy sisters, superbly played by Nicola Roy and Jo Freer who, with telepathic precision, deliver half their lines in unison and totes make the most of McKnight's OMG teen-speak. Equally besotted is Julie Heatherill's otherwise level-headed Cinderella, who fails to see through the prince's self-centredness, even when he interrupts her mid-duet to say he's "not quite finished yet".

All this, in Mark Thomson's production, makes for bright and brash entertainment, but the show is caught between competing traditions. It has the exuberance of panto, but without the silliness; and it has the narrative ambitions of a more serious Christmas show but not the psychological complexity.

A case in point is Cinderella's stepmother. As a witch who draws her power from unrequited love, she is a standard-issue panto baddie, and Jayne McKenna plays her as such. But how much scarier would it have been for the little girl if her father had chosen this woman willingly, rather than being bewitched? Cinderella is not a story about fanciful supernatural powers but about the irrationality, unfairness and excesses of a very real adult world. This show misses a trick by not taking Cinderella's quest seriously enough.
© Mark Fisher, 2012 (Pic: Eamonn McGoldrick)

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