Cinderella Lives!

‘Feminist burlesque’ sounds great. Not sure what to expect (some kind of Femen inspired strip tease perhaps?) but I was intrigued by the concept. However, Cinderella Lives is less burlesque, more monologue with random dance sequences intertwined. A modern take on the classic Cinderella story, Cinderella Lives is a fun, playful piece of theatre with a clear political message. Kiely’s a good performer with some interesting ideas but the piece needs editing. A couple of the dance sequences should be cut, the writing polished up and characters developed. It’s a shame as with a little more thought this piece could really shine.

Kiely retells the Cinderella tale using ‘Eve’ as her princess. Eve is an almost thirty-something career girl patiently waiting for Mr Right, her prince, to take her away to begin her ‘real life’. Kiely’s script rings true, Eve is a recognisable stereotype - it’s easy to think of friends, family or even, gulp, aspects of our own personality that buy into this fantasy outlook. Moreover, Kiely argues, we’ve been encouraged to. Through myths like Cinderella, women are told that if we play the game right - ‘quietly building up a house and a career’ life will reward us. For Eve time is ticking, as her best friend laments ‘I’m 34 I should have a house, garden and family by now!’ but her prince doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

So far, so good: an interesting premise, a believable political agenda and recognisable characters. However, Kiely never really moves beyond this. As the play continued the feminist angle hardly develops and at times feels almost outdated, the script is rife with clichéd laments over tampons, waxing and beauty products - haven’t we heard this all before? There are more relevant topics; we don’t need reminding that periods can suck and beauty products are everywhere. There were points during the performance where I almost wanted to shout out - if you don’t want to wear a tight dress and heels then don’t! Instead of portraying a pathetic victim, unbelievable in her lack of agency, it would’ve been more empowering and politically interesting to see a strong female character on stage. We’re not all victims, a lot of us don’t buy into the ideal - let’s talk about that instead. Also, if you must show us a victim, show us how they can change (a dance sequence removing makeup doesn’t quite suffice).

Cinderella Lives is a great concept with a powerful agenda. With some editing, direction and reworking it has the potential to become so much more.

Reviews by Zoe Hunter Gordon

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Performances

The Blurb

A funny, thought-provoking, sexily-skewed retelling of Cinderella. Feminist burlesque, it’s a call to arms for a revolution that has yet to be. For anyone who knows a woman or dresses like one. www.cinderellalives.co.uk.

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