Scottish Ballet: Cinders! @ Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Scottish Ballet presents a thoughtful re-imagining of Cinderella that breaks from ballet conformity with an exciting, experimental twist

Review by Stephanie Stevenson | 18 Jan 2024
  • Scottish Ballet's Cinders!

Scottish Ballet delivers another glittering rendition of a classic fairy tale with Cinders!, a reimagining of the Cinderella story set to Sergei Prokofiev's score, performed live by the ballet’s own orchestra. This latest adaption strikes a harmonious balance between tradition and innovation through the introduction of an experimental new twist that will appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences.

The genders of the two lead roles change from show to show, with the audience not knowing who they will have as Cinders and the Prince (or Princess) until curtains up. These switched-up renditions reimagine how the central characters may act differently compared to their usually prescribed roles, which some audiences for Cinders! will still encounter. 

When he dances the role of Cinders, Evan Loudon embodies the character's grace and sombre presence, while Marge Hendrick portrays the Princess as confident yet sophisticated. It is a refreshing take that questions our assumptions of these roles and gives us reason to think about how much effort goes into unlearning those ingrained gendered cues. At times, the supporting cast outshine the main couple – they throw each other around for laughs, adding layers of humour and warmth to the production.

Before the ballet even begins, the set captivates us with its visually stunning design and innovative use of technology, created by set and costume designer Elin Steele and lighting designer Lawrie McLennan. The attention to detail in the costumes and stage elements shows how much care has gone into the production. Through Christopher Hampson's choreography, the cast showcase tremendous skill but at times the pacing slows down compared to past Scottish Ballet shows, and the choreography seems to tiptoe along the edges of predictability with perhaps one too many games of catch.

In essence, Cinders! is a visually captivating treat for the whole family, offering a ballet experience that is both accessible and artistically ambitious. While it may not completely break free from some conventions, its ability to seamlessly blend the classical with the contemporary is commendable.

Cinders!, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh until 20 Jan; His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 24-27 Jan; Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, 31 Jan - 3 Feb