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SLY Theatre - The Ash Girl

22nd to 23rd December 2009.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Cinders crosses to the dark side

The Ash Girl, at New Greenham Arts, on Tuesday, December 22 and Wednesday, December 23

Ten years ago, the audience battled through the snow and ice to attend Shining Lights' production of Timberlake Wertenbaker's The Ash Girl, and the weather certainly repeated itself for their 2009 performances.

The play was perhaps the antidote to the sugar-sweet pantomimes on offer - this being the darker side to Cinderella, much more menacing and foreboding.

Director Pete Watt used a simple set, with a haunting soundscape and dramatic lighting to create the right atmosphere.

The plot followed the traditional storyline. Two sisters (Freya Poole and Holly Lucas) are invited to the ball. They were mean and horrid to the Ashgirl - a convincing performance from Caz Harrold. She was also invited to the ball, but had no gown to wear, and monsters slithered their way into her heart and mind, in the shape of the seven deadly sins. This was an unusual twist and gave choreographer Anna Roberts the opportunity to create some skilful movement and sound ensemble work, creating the mysterious, magical forest.

Nell Windsor was a splendid Princess Zehra, with Tom Serruya playing Prince Amir. Of course, the Ashgirl did go to the ball, aided by the fairy in the mirror, Abi Preston.

The prince fell in love with her but as midnight approached the Ashgirl needed to return home, leaving her slipper behind. The prince searched his land to find his true love, but in this version the two sisters were prepared to cut off their toes or heel in order to make their feet fit the slipper... quite gruesome, but all was eventually resolved.

This was an intriguing tale, chilling and immersive performed by a talented able cast and well worth risking the somewhat hazardous journey to watch.

Shining Lights should be congratulated on celebrating their 10th year of productions.