[author-post-rating] (3/5 stars)
Billed as “feminist burlesque”, Aisling Kiely’s show is definitely feminist but seems to have missed the burlesque. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – although it’s a strange description – but the show does feel as though it’s missing something. Kiely, playing both our host, Androgyne, and our heroine, the cisgendered Eve, is a pleasantly charismatic performer, but Cinderella Lives! Doesn’t capitalise on its promise.
Kiely starts the show in just boxer shorts and a vest, before miming peeing standing up. She dresses in an androgynous suit, ruffles her close-cropped hair, and seems on the brink of starting some interesting conversations about the fluidity of gender and our obsession with “maleness” and “femaleness”. Then she switches into ‘Eve’ mode, pulling on a skirt and a long wig, and barely touches on these ideas again. Eve is a 29-year-old single woman, trying to have it all. In fact, she’s not really sure what “having it all” would entail, and is trying to untangle whether the desire she feels to have a child is biological or societal, or both. So far, so interesting.
What Kiely struggles to do is to take the piece to another level. Playing both Eve and Eve’s Australian flatmate, Alice, as well as Alan, an ex-boyfriend, Kiely ends up having conversations with herself, switching characters and accents, in a way that’s just bizarre to watch. Alice wants to get married and have babies, and is prone to rant about how electronic household appliances unchained women from the housework. Oh, and she’s definitely not a feminist, and she’d like her happy-ever-after to be in the form of a heterosexual relationship and a mortgage.
Eve starts to think that maybe she wants a different kind of life. Through some rather cliched exposition centred around periods, make-up and waxing, Eve comes to the realisation that society puts pressure on her to look and behave a certain way. The problem is, this isn’t news. It’s hardly credible that a smart, driven woman like Eve wouldn’t have thought about these things before. She ends up choosing a more liberated path, which is great, but the piece doesn’t really explore how or why.
Parts of the show feel a bit worthy, and it doesn’t interrogate ideas so much as just point them out. There’s too much exposition delivered through monologue rather than character interaction, and it ends up feeling like a cross between a self-help book and a feminist lecture. It’s a shame, because Kiely is a entertaining performer, and one can’t help but feel that with a little more direction and a harsh edit of the script, Cinderella Lives! could have carried its ideas much further.
Cinderella Lives! is at Venue 13 until 24 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.