Pros: An eclectic mix of performance styles and elements, which combine to create both magic and mess at the same time.
Cons: Some of the transitions between scenes could be more fluid, and clearer. The narrative was a bit disjointed at times.
There are two sides to every story; a bitter claim usually made by those whose reputations have been tarnished by the first side of the story. In this play the stepsisters from Cinderella, represented as cruel, envious, and ugly are given the right of reply.
Performance company RashDash have thrown ‘once upon a time’ and ‘happily ever after’ out the palace window, and replaced it with a modern and more edgy interpretation of this age-old fairytale. Set in a rehabilitation unit, where the sisters have been admitted following a very public breakdown, they reenact for the audience their version of events. As bold as the word ‘lies’, which stands out amongst the black text written on the floor, the sisters want you to forget what you think you know about them and about Cinderella, or Cindy-rella as they like to call her. It’s time for the truth.
Chapter one sees the non-identical twin sisters, Pearl (Helen Goalen) and Emerald (Abbi Greenland) aged eight playing in a needle-ridden burnt out car around the back of their mother Ruby’s house. They are taken from this world and move into a new place; a bigger house, complete with a chandelier made out of milk cartons. Their new home belongs to Ruby’s boyfriend who has a daughter, Arabella.
As they grow up the sisters vie for the attention of their mother, who has become more enamored by the prettier Arabella. The performance gets darker and quite sinister as we witness the troubled girls tormenting themselves because of their mother’s neglect, and because they don’t look like Arabella.
All comes to a head at the Prince’s ball, which in this story has been replaced with a reality TV contest; think The Bachelor crossed with Extreme Makeover and Big Brother. The sisters, including Arabella compete in a series of challenges for the Prince’s hand in marriage. History will tell us who wins, but the public fall out for Emerald and Pearl is a tragic story untold until now.
All of the character portrayals in this show are the reverse; the opposite of what we remember from Cinderella, which can take some getting used to. There are enough connections to the original tale to keep the audience on the same page, and to allow comparisons to be made. But ultimately this is a separate, and much more complex story.
RashDash has utilised a broad range of performance styles and elements: contemporary dance, acrobatics, cabaret, comedy and pantomime. But it is the live music, which makes the biggest and longest lasting impression; it’s as much a gig, as it is a play. From the moment the audience enter the theatre to the final curtain call, the rock, percussion, and instrumental sounds of Not Now Bernard, a three-piece band, carry you.
All the original musical arrangements and lyrics are exceptional, and change from scene to scene. One moment I felt like I was listening to Amanda Palmer, the next The Ting Tings. Even the Arctic Monkeys made an appearance. And there is a loop pedal song, recorded on stage by Emerald, which will blow your mind.
This show is more than just a reinterpretation of a familiar tale. It is Cinderella with brunt and balls. And it turns everything you think you know on its ugly head.
Presented by: RashDash with Kyle Davies
Box Office: 020 7478 0100
Booking Link: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/the-ugly-sisters/
Booking Until: 2nd February 2014