The Little Glass Slipper as Performed by the Queen of France and her Friends ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review by Tony Frame. Group: The Miles Sisters. Venue 65. Fringe Online. Click here to watch online

When I put a call out on Twitter for Fringe shows to see this was one of the first I bookmarked. I love period pieces. I was a little bit dismayed when I found out that the company hadn’t brought the show to the Fringe themselves (in person) and that it exists only as an ‘online on-demand’ show. But they’re from Texas and that’s a long way to come when Covid restrictions are still in place.

I’m sceptical about watching theatre shows online. Prior to the pandemic, most of the shows that existed online were archive footage, shot on one camera with hissy sound and poor camerawork. Since then I’ve always felt that the magic of live theatre is lost to a certain degree when it’s watched on a laptop or television screen. Still, I kept this show on my list and took the liberty of watching it, despite my reservations.

If there’s a standard that’s expected from online shows then this definitely sets the bar, as far as I’m concerned. The cameras used, the sound; everything was pristine and crystal clear from the get-go. Okay, I said to myself, as I sat on the sofa, watching it on the television. You have my attention, continue…

Chaos ensues from the start as Marie Antoinette’s production of Cinderella is performed to a public audience amidst riots and civil unrest outside the theatre. With the Queen herself playing the titular role in the play (known as its other title, the Little Glass Slipper), her friends and aides are debating if it should even go ahead, being that the country is on the brink of a revolution. But the show must go on and so it does, with Marie Antoinette doing her best to keep the ship on course, even though it’s sinking faster than the Titanic.

What starts with a breakneck pace keeps going and going right up until the very end. As the revolt against the monarchy takes hold, cast members from the Little Glass Slipper start to jump ship and disappear during the live play, thus leaving poor (not literally) Marie Antoinette and her loyal friends to improvise as best they can. This all makes for some funny moments in the play, which is aided with even more humour in the bickering backstage, as the cast members continue to discuss whether or not they should tell the Queen of the impending revolution.

There’s moments in this production that it felt reminiscent of the Carry On movies with all their brilliance of parodying classism when all hell is breaking loose. The costumes and the sets are exactly what is required for a period piece as well; it doesn’t look like any expense was spared, nor any detail left unturned.

Ultimately, it was the acting that really got my attention from the outset. Every character felt whole and polished, as if the actors had done this a thousand times. I stepped out of the realms of theatre for certain moments and felt like I was watching a television show like The Tudors.

The directing was as it should be for good directing; everyone was exactly where they should have been on the stage and the latter scenes really focused on the stark reality of the protagonist’s fall from grace.

The music throughout was excellent, although slightly overused in some scenes, perhaps, and I’m sure the Miles sisters drew some inspiration from Sofia Coppola’s film to some degree as well. Overall, I thought the story was unique and excellently written, with one of the best endings I’ve ever seen in a play. And Cara Johnston’s portrayal of Marie Antoinette really touched on some whimsical and tender moments of which I felt the 2006 film lacked.

I would hope that this show makes it way to the Fringe (in person) next year. It’s got all the ingredients for being hugely popular and successful and being a stand out from the rest of the competition. Like they say; if the shoe fits…

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