If you’re feeling glum about having no Christmas parties to go to, don’t worry: you shall go to the ball. This week we were transported from a chilly December day in York to the world of Cinderella and her vile sisters, thanks to the new production at the ballroom of York Theatre Royal’s De Grey Rooms.
The ballroom has been transformed into Cinders’ home for this intimate production, with lines of laundry (something we can all relate to, or maybe that’s just me) setting the scene for poor Cinders’ life of drudgery. But it’s the cast of just three mightily talented actors that bring this tale to life, with puppetry, masks, music and simple but engaging storytelling. It’s a fast, funny and playful fifty minutes that had the schoolchildren in the audience gripped (and the adults for that matter: there are plenty of jokes and wry asides to keep the grown-ups happy). It’s also really quite moving.
The story is more Grimm than Disney, so don’t go expecting tiaras and real-life princesses. This pared-down production doesn’t gloss over the death of Cinderella’s mother, and the evil stepmother’s solution to the ill-fitting glass slipper is gruesomely funny. For that reason, it’s probably best suited to children over the age of about four-and-a-half/five. The atmosphere is very relaxed, making it a great introduction to theatre: there are mats for the audience to sit on if they’d prefer that to chairs, and the lights are never dimmed. This is a truly magical production that will live in the memories of the audience long after the Christmas decorations have been taken down.
Cinderella – York Theatre Royal’s De Grey Rooms until 31 December – Adults £12, children £8, family ticket £35 plus £1 booking fee – book online or at the Box Office.