"Cinderella" at York's Theatre Royal proves good Christmas season theatre doesn't only have to be panto.
Although playing just around the corner from York's all-singing, all-dancing panto, Tongue Tied Theatre, Telling Tales and York Theatre Royal's adaptation of Cinderella is really a million miles away from its noisy neighbour.
Appropriately located in the De Grey Rooms' ballroom, this production is delicate and intimate, with not a single flying Wagon Wheel in sight. With the aid of live music, shadow puppetry and mask, the three performers (Susanna Meese, Robin Simpson and Lizzie Wiggs) bring this classic tale to life with enthusiasm and sensitivity.
The story of a motherless girl consigned to a life of drudgery by her wicked step-mother and ugly step-sisters until magic and a handsome price intervene is a well known one, even to the very youngest members of the audience but there is a lot of content crammed in to 50 minutes and it is credit to the writer, Simpson, that it never feels rushed or truncated.
The performers also play their part as they move, with dexterity and calm, between instruments, dainty masks and potentially awkward puppets. The young audience sat cross-legged and quiet throughout, testament surely to how engaging the performances are.
Cinderella offers a refreshing antidote to the noise and chaos of typical Christmas time productions. It is a gentle reminder that for all the glitter and gimmicks it will always be good storytelling that remains at the heart of captivating theatre.