Cinderella: It Ain’t Over ’Til the Shoe Fits, which plays at The Toronto Fringe Festival’s Fringe Kids through July 11, 2015, is a problematic re-telling of the classic fairytale.
Cinderella, for me, is an inherently problematic fairytale because its message of how beauty, fashion and housework are young women’s most marriageable qualities and that those who are deemed “ugly” of face are also ugly in character, could not be more archaic. Yet, playwrights have the license to tell the story differently, so that it better reflects the world our children live in and the ways, I hope, adults seek to empower, rather than diminish, young girls. Geri Paige Gans’ adaptation does further disservice to this story by robbing Cinderella of her charm, intelligence and agency and instead reduces her to snivelling, whining, repeating everything that is told to her and getting into a screaming match with her Fairy Godmother. Yet, there is no reason why this Cinderella is so bland, she is still awkwardly cast in the role of winning the Prince, attempting to endear herself to the children in the audience and to live happily ever after. I found her stepsisters, Esmerelda and Lavinia, more entertaining, which I don’t think was the intention of the playwright.
One of the challenges with this production is that it seems to be trying to be a pantomime, with the stepsisters played in drag, and a few random pop cultural references thrown in and a few asides to the audience, but the jokes mostly miss their mark and the plot lacks the zany, action-packed antics needed for a successful panto. This leaves these characters, and the poor actors, in a sort of limbo with no sense of stakes, which leaves the audience not caring whether Cinderella lives happily ever after or not.
TWISI FRINGE RATING:
Cinderella: It Ain’t Over ‘Til the Shoe Fits plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place) at the following times: