Theatre

Cinderella

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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Neil Cooper, Four stars

THE giant circular clock mechanism that frames the stage for the Citz's very 21st century take on Cinderella suggests that time is moving on for stories like this. As the moon looks down as part of Gabriella Slade's steam-punk style design, it too marks the changes going on below. Here, young Isabella mourns her mother, even as her father weds Irene Allan's ghastly Lady Claudia, inheriting her hideous daughters Claudine and Claudette as part of the deal. As the trio conspire against Isabella, banishing her to the kitchen and christening her Cinderella, they inadvertently secure her destiny by default.

Sinead Sharkey's Cinderella is a heroine full of attitude from the off as she swishes her way incognito through various royal balls inbetween slaving over a hot stove. As her nemeses, Hannah Howie and Caroline Deyga's Claudine and Claudette resemble a spoilt brat mash-up of Strawberry Switchblade and long lost nineties trash-pop duo Shampoo if they'd been forced to suck on soor plums.

Dominic Hill's production conjures up a darkly comic dreamscape punctuated by live piano and percussion. Stuart Paterson's script highlights the story's inherent grotesquerie, from the colonisation of an un-named nation that put kitchen boy Callum into servitude, to the over-riding sense of entitlement that drives those in power. Most telling is the subversion of the traditional gooey-eyed feelgood romance, in which Cinderella usually falls willingly and passively into the Prince's arms. Here, however, Sharkey's Cinders is smart enough to realise posh parties are rubbish, and doesn't need men to define her. She certainly won't put up with any of the Prince's over-privileged nonsense, especially when it takes a lurch into the predatory. When Isabella and Callum reclaim their identities, it is an act of self-determination that redefines Cinderella with a state of independence.