Buttons unleashes some magical social chicanery in this enjoyable egalitarian twist on the rags-to-riches tale
The modern adapter of Cinderella is faced with two questions. How to give agency to a central character who is subject not only to the cruelty of her adoptive family but also to the whims of a passing prince? And, in an egalitarian age, how not to suggest that the way to flee poverty is to marry into the ruling class?
Writer, director and Ugly Sister Barrie Hunter has answers to both in this classy show that combines the polish of storytelling theatre with the merry excesses of panto.
Played by Betty Valencia, this Cinderella is easily the most intelligent person on the stage – and a lovely, unmannered singer to boot. Employed in the department store run by her stepmother (an entertainingly horrid Helen Logan), she is economically exploited but never a victim. She is too bright and pragmatic. The odds are against her, but she is in control.
Her good nature inspires the show’s most radical departure. Fellow worker Buttons (a spritely Lewis Winter Petrie) recognises how deserving she is. With a little guiding magic from Neshla Caplan’s Fairy Godmother, he raids the shop’s stock to transform himself into the Prince. His announcement of a ball is one elaborate trick.
On the minus side, the ruse means Buttons knows full well to whose foot the slipper belongs – a detail Hunter neatly glosses over – but on the plus side, it means Cinderella is every bit his equal. No palace for her, then, but she does inherit the shop.
And that, in this season of good will, is an opportunity for up-the-workers redress. She re-employs sacked staff, improves pay and conditions, and looks set to be the model employer. A happy ending for all!
Cinderella is at Perth theatre until 31 December