Cinderella – A Fairytale at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol

cindersTobfactSALLY Cookson’s reworking of the stories of Cinderella and The Ash Girl, Cinderella – A Fairytale, returns to the Tobacco Factory in Southville after its sell-out performances in 2011, and before it even opened a further week was added to the run to accommodate demand for tickets.

With no element of pantomime, this is a black comedy with an environmental message and a strong moral compass, but like so many of Cookson’s creations, manages to be visually enchanting, humorously entertaining and to provide something for all ages.

The Tobacco Factory seating means that the stage is close to every audience member, and the younger ones of those were very keen to take part whenever the chance arose.

The story is familiar, but here Ella’s mother dies in childbirth, she is comforted by birds, brought up by her father, who marries and promptly dies. Enough to give a girl a complex, but not the fey Ella, cast into a grateful of cinders by her very nasty stepmother and step-siblings.

The prince is much happier talking to trees and spotting birds, and Ella knows all the calls, so they are a flamingo match made in the forest.

The journey to happiness involves (of course) a formal dance, a glittery boot left behind, and a bit of butchery to get the thing to fit the wrong foot.

The production, directed by Chris Pirie, is jointly made for Travelling Light and Tobacco Fac­tory Theatres, and features the super-versatile Craig Edwards and Lucy Tuck reprising their 2011 performances, with newcomers Isabella Marshall as a delightful Ella, Dorian Simpson as a brother who is really sweet underneath the carapace hardened daily by his horrid mother, and Joey Hickman as an awkward and shy prince.

Lighting designer Matt Graham must have been delighted at the bit of technical kit that allows him to change the colour of the lantern lighting in the auditorium at will, adding to the magic of the show.

It is sheer joy, and it now continues to 22nd January.


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