Cinderella, this year’s Christmas show at the Traverse, is a wee gem for children aged nought to ninety. Created and designed by Shona Reppe, it has her hallmark stamped all over it, and is so absorbing and playful that the kids are totally engaged from minute one. In this rendition, it is the remarkable Rick Conte (whom most kids will already love through his role as ‘Dog’ in the multi-award-winning The Man Who Planted Trees) who takes on this one-person performance, formerly given by Reppe herself. The baton could not have been passed on to safer hands.
As the cheerfully cheesy notes of familiar tunes play in the background, sounding like someone has perhaps inadvertently pressed the bossa nova key on their Yamaha keyboard, Conte, armed with a feather duster, gently dusts among the audience, until the tickles lead to giggles. Having secured the focused attention of all, he begins to tidy up the little scraps of paper on the floor, opening and reading their words ‘Help!’.
Of course, this is a plea from Cinderella, who Conte eventually finds shut in one of the many secret drawers and hinged hiding places that are cleverly concealed in the curved, chequerboard table. This Cinders is a bedraggled and snotty little puppet, downtrodden of course, but resourceful and mischievous too. In Conte’s hands, and with a bit of help from some special Reppe design magic, she is also mesmerizingly real.
Each Ugly Sister is a garish satin glove with a feather boa cuff and gemstones for eyes, that on Conte’s hands acquire not only life, but full-blown personalities. "Does my thumb look big in this?" they screech. These few props, together with a few sound effects, is apparently all that is needed to create a total theatrical experience (not counting the huge dollop of talent required for both design and execution).
Conte dons a sequinned hat to perform the role of Cinders’ Fairy Godfather and performs a bit of magic for us, to make up for the fact that we weren’t invited to the ball. And despite the Uglies sawing off bits of their feet in an attempt to fit into the glass slipper, all ends happily ever after, just as it should.
45 minutes of deceptively simple storytelling that leaves an impact bigger than the Uglies’ egos!
Runs 8th – 24th December