Cinderella On Ice

One of the good things about working at the Wales Millennium Centre is that you get to see most of the shows. Perhaps that isn’t such a good thing, since you need to have fairly eclectic tastes to actually enjoy everything. However one thing I have noticed is how often the theme of science and culture crops up in shows that you wouldn’t expect them to.

As an example, The Imperial Ice Stars from Russia have just finished their production of Cinderella On Ice at the WMC. This is not the Disney version of the story. In it Cinderella’s father is a clockmaker, he is a man of science and logic and he sees the universe as a form of clockwork mechanism, an idea that dates back to the Enlightenment. In fact his occupation seems to be a metaphor for the science of the Enlightenment. So when a Gypsy fortune teller (the equivalent to the Fairy Godmother in the Disney version) arrives in town he dismisses her and her crystal ball as just so much nonsense. It is science verses mysticism. However, the Gypsy has a powerful influence on all the clocks on the town, one that the clockmaker and his assistants seem unable to correct.

When Cinderella disappears inside the “thirteenth hour” that occurs after midnight has struck she seems lost forever. It is only when the Clockmaker and the Gypsy work together that the error in time is corrected and Cinderella is recovered so that the story can have its usual happy ending. In its own way it reminded me of some of the themes of Stanis?aw Lem’s Solaris which isn’t bad for a fairy story performed on ice.

written by Peter Grehan

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