Bristol Tobacco Factory Theatres review – Cinderella: A Fairy Tale

Vivienne Kennedy reviews Cinderella: A Fairy Tale, playing at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 22 January 2017

When I saw Tobacco Factory Theatres’ and Travelling Light’s co-production of Cinderella: A Fairy Tale in 2011, on its first ever press night, I enjoyed it so much I rang the box office daily until I’d managed to secure a pair of returns to see it again on the closing night.

It’s a show that has stayed with me, always coming to mind when I take a mental look back at my favourites. Watching again this week was in some ways as comfortable as slipping into a favourite pair of slippers (or sparkly DMs) and yet I’d forgotten enough of the fine detail, or sufficient small changes have been made, for it to feel totally fresh at the same time. I fell in love all over again.

Devised by the original cast with director Sally Cookson, dramaturg Adam Peck, composer Benji Bower and designer Katie Sykes, Cinderella: A Fairytale is very much based on the Grimm version of the story with a decidedly ornithological twist – don’t expect a Fairy Godmother, Shetland ponies or a pumpkin carriage pulled by mice but do look forward to an imaginative production full of exceptional choreography, jazzy music, clever puppetry, and laughs aplenty. The revival is directed by Chris Pirie with Brian Hargreaves as musical director.

Original cast members Lucy Tuck (sister/queen) and Craig Edwards (father/stepmother) are joined by Isabella Marshall (Ella), Dorian Simpson (brother) and Joey Hickman (prince) and, just as in 2011, the casting seems perfect, each and every one of them exactly right for each of the multiple roles they play. And, oh boy, must it be an exhausting show to play in; performed in the round they frequently rush off on one side of the theatre only to reappear just moments later from the other direction, wearing a different costume (excellent use of layering by Katie Sykes) and acting out a new role. It never gets confusing, and they never seem to get out of breath – it’s all a bit magical really.

Cinderella: A Fairy Tale is a simple story, told well. It appeals to young and old alike with the reactions of the audience – whether an innocent comment shouted out by a seven-year-old or a genuine belly laugh from an older gentleman – adding something very special to each performance.

The show runs until 22 January. A few performances are sold out but at the time of writing there are still tickets available for most dates. There will be a BSL interpreted performance at 7.30pm on Thursday 15 December and a relaxed performance at 6.30pm on Wednesday 18 January. Pre-show workshops with revival director Chris Pirie will take place at 11am today (Saturday 10 December), Saturday 17 December and Sunday 07 Sunday; these are aimed at children aged from 6-12 years and priced at £10 per person; pre-booking is essential as places are limited.

Tickets are priced from £16 to £20 (depending on the date) with concessions from £11 to £15 and family tickets (admitting two adults, two children or one adult, three children) from £45 to £60.

The age recommendation is 6+ and I would accept this guidance, it’s something they’ve thought about very carefully.

For further information and to book online visit


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