Cinderella Lives!

Rating ****
Reviewed by Alex Foott

Cinderella Lives!
Written and performed by Aisling Kiely
Performance date – Fri 9th Aug 2013

Since time immemorial we have perpetuated certain ideals in the form of fairy tales. Far be it from me to question the delights of a Disney classic but what do we actually learn from them? That a woman can rise from the dregs of society, marry the right man and live happily ever after. That’s it. That’s her story. Aisling Kiely approaches the traditional story of Cinderella, the matriarch of all fairy tales, and cleverly remodels it for the twenty first century. She alerts us to the ever-present inequality between the genders but, surprisingly, doesn’t resort to denouncing men everywhere. A refreshing change from typically aggressive Feminists, Kiely welcomes us to her way of thinking and doesn’t castigate us for holding both men and women in equal esteem.

Kiely begins by introducing us to her story’s heroine, Eve (or Everyman). Rather than presenting us with a paradigm of the maidens typical of fairy tales, Kiely simply shows us a template of the modern woman. We follow Eve as she attends job interviews, scrutinises the opposite sex and contemplates her future, questioning whether she agrees with what society demands of women. While Eve celebrates the actively idealistic and courageous nature of Feminism, her flatmate, Alice, remarks that it is only a serendipitous byproduct of the wartime government’s need for ‘cheap labour’. Kiely is very sensitive in her approach to the dichotomy she proposes, demonstrating that her interests lie not in the origin of Feminism, but in its future.

Kiely is, by no means, a brilliant actor but she succeeds in thrusting forth her ideals through her unique storytelling. Manipulating her natural likeability, she maintains our attention. She encourages us to question various conventions, including marriage and pregnancy, urging all women to take real control of their lives. Her argument is level-headed and her imagination is enthralling, a combination that makes for a very receptive audience. Injecting her burlesque with such endearing sweetness and thought-provoking comedy she solidly conquers even the most chauvinistic among us. A real victory for Venus.