Theatre Review – Cinderella

May 12 2010 | By More

★★★★★ Magic

Scottish Storytelling Centre: May 2010
Review by Thom Dibdin

With a wave of her magic feather duster and leaving a sprinkling of fairy dust in her wake, Shona Reppe enchants and enthrals children and grownups alike with her puppet version of Cinderella – which is at the Scottish Storytelling Centre all this week as part of the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival of theatre for Children and Young People.

Reppe’s magic lies in her detail. She demands the attention by that well known theatrical trick of dusting the auditorium – and the delighted audience – before her discovery of a trail of notes leading across the darkening stage.

The Uglies get dressed…

“Help!” each note cries out in her tiny, fragile voice, as she is led to her chintzy magician’s table, centre stage. “Help!” they cry as she sets the tabletop with the mop, duster and kitchen equipment Cinderella will need. “Help!” they cry as she opens a drawer to discover the dusty, bedraggled Cinders.

And suddenly, Shona Reppe’s magic trick is complete. She has transformed a raggle-taggle bag of groaning, mind-wandering, snot-picking six year-olds into the most attentive audience any performer could ever want. They still comment: “That’s really scary” whispers one as Cinders teeters up a table lamp to whisk dust off the very top. But there is no dissent.

It is scary, too, as Cinderella almost tumbles. Of course she makes it down and has soon turned on Radio Pumpkin’s easy-listening tunes to accompany her late night cleaning. And catch details of a breaking news story concerning a prince and ball with invites for all.

The story started and the mood set, Reppe continues to weave her magic. There are no other puppets for her to manipulate, however. Cinderella’s father is the sound of footsteps passing as she looks up, endearing and hopeful that he will notice her. Never, in all the Cinderellas ever, has he been so heartless.

The Uglies in all their finery

The stepsisters are shimmering gloves which Reppe pulls on with a look of delight, and dresses in bangles and fake-fur trim. Oh, such wanton kitsch! Oh the excess of bling! As the gloves fight and preen, it says everything you could want about the classic image of nouveau riche Uglies but in a manner that is, in keeping with Reppe’s neat, elfin appearance, utterly refined.

The Uglies allow Reppe to take the story right to the edge, too. They hold Cinders up over an open fire for sport. And are happy to hack away parts of their own feet when the glass slipper is sent round after the ball. Yet there is never outright fear, just the frisson of danger which makes the whole play real.

As for the fairy godmother, that’s Reppe herself. Adding a shimmer to her all-black outfit, she sends Cinders off to the ball and steps out to entertain with a few more magic tricks. After all, we didn’t have invites, did we.

It all adds up to a must-see experience. It gives its young audience the space to use their imagination. And will thrill any adult who is still prepared to use theirs.

Run continues to Sunday (not Thursday)

Suggested ages: over 5

Full details on Imaginate Website

Shona Reppe website:


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