Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother. Except, this fairy godmother is more likely to say ‘bibbity-bobbity-f-you’ than turn a pumpkin into a silver carriage. She’s not magical, she doesn’t really care about her spoilt princess clients and she wakes up with her wild hair, her nightgown inside out and blowing raspberries. So far, not so very Disney. However, she is accompanied by her narrator, a sort of disembodied Jiminy Cricket-like voice (Stephen Olly) who tries to guide her through her ups and downs.
Packed full of sharp one-liners that had the whole audience laughing
Although only our fairy godmother (Cerys Evans) is seen on stage, a whole cast of characters are brought to life through creative puppetry. A mug, some glasses and a cap/hoodie combination become a monstrous boss, Prince Charming and Cinderella respectively. Evans is clearly a competent puppeteer (ably helped with puppetry design by Liza Stevens and Joni-Rae Carrack) and you quickly forget that you are staring at an inanimate object. At one point, I was mentally urging her to step away from Cinderella and had to remember that she couldn’t possibly detach her own left hand.
The hour-long run time occasionally seemed a little slow; one instance being the scene with the drag queen which, whilst amusing, needed to be either funnier or more emotionally driven to justify the diversion from the central narrative. The fairy godmother’s affair with Prince Charming was also a little confused. One minute we see her (rightfully) shouting him away and the next she’s admitting she has feelings for him. Although this might be a truthful representation of a complex relationship, it left the audience wondering why she felt this way about someone who was clearly a toxic and unlikable presence.
Picking apart fairytales for their happily-ever-afters and their narrow gender stereotyping has been done a hundred times before in everything from Shrek to Enchanted. Even arch fairytale purveyor Disney released their smash hit Frozen (the song Do You Want To Build A Snowman? played as we entered the performance) warning us that Prince Charming may not be so charming after all, and that was way back in 2013. However, a trans perspective on fairytales is a refreshing take on a tired subject, and it was charmingly framed using cute props and costuming, which really helped to set the scene. Using familiar characters also made it easier to relate to her situation, as she is regularly confronted with hurtful comments and barely veiled bigotry.
There a plenty of gags, including the magical equivalent of PPI. The script (written by Cerys Evans herself) is very snappy and packed full of sharp one-liners that had the whole audience laughing alongside with her. Evans’ fairy godmother may have struggled to fit in in Fairytale Land, but Evans herself seemed to feel right at home on stage. Captivating for the whole hour, she delivered an emotional and intensely likeable performance, switching between cheeky flippancy and agonising frustration within a moment’s notice.
I’m sure everyone can relate to the fairy godmother just trying to do her best to please her boss, pay her bills and make something of herself. However, seeing the additional struggles she faces because of her very existence makes you hope that, even if there isn’t a happily-ever-after waiting, a least there could be a happily-most-of-the-time-after (hangovers excluded, of course).