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Cinderella review at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow – ‘subversion and playfulness’

Caroline Deyga, Malcolm Shields and Nicholas Ralph in Cinderella at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Photo: Tim Morozzo Caroline Deyga, Malcolm Shields and Nicholas Ralph in Cinderella at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Photo: Tim Morozzo

While the inclusion of audience interaction – plenty of enthusiastic call and response – and the use of a classic fairytale has moved the Citizens’ Christmas show closer to pantomime, Dominic Hill’s direction and Stuart Paterson’s script prove that it is possible to be festive without rehashing lazy comic routines and spurious local banter.

Sinead Sharkey’s Cinderella has agency, wit and energy and her decision to follow love’s calling subverts the expected ending and manages to critique the conservatism of the pantomime format without sacrificing charm, wit and a sense of fun.

Hill’s productions always have an uncompromising morality, and this is true of this family production. If the reworked plot relies too heavily on grand balls – three are attended by Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters – it does challenge the stereotyping of woman, aristocrats and servants: Calum (the Buttons replacement) even offers a class-conscious complaint against the decadence of the family.

This seriousness, however, never prevents the show from being playful: Peter Collins presents Sergeant Puff as a man trapped by duty but ready to do the right thing; Caroline Deyga and Hannah Howie are appropriately antagonistic sisters, and the optimism of the finale contains sharp subversion and politically thoughtful wit in place of the usual wedding frippery.

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The Citizens’ Christmas show combines subversion with a sense of playfulness