Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler
Timberlake Wertenbaker’s The Ash Girl opened Friday June 17 at Clio Cast and Crew’s Theatre 57 under the direction of Terry Holden.
This play is a somewhat darker adaptation of Cinderella. Throughout the play the Seven Deadly Sins attempt to wreak havoc on two different families. Werternbaker was considered one of the most influential British playwrights of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Her plays include The Line, Our Country’s Good, and The Love of the Nightingale.
Ash Girl lives in the hearth protected by the ashes, but when she emerges, she is put upon by her two not-so-bright sisters and their angry mother. I am not going to go into much of the story that relates to Cinderella because everyone knows it, but I am sure Disney might not touch this adaptation. Part of the play revolves around those Seven Deadly Sins and their effort to entice Ash Girl over to the dark side. You’ll have to see the show to learn what happens.
The set was very well done. Loved the cave, the hearth and the stairs to the forest. My question is why did the director put the bulk of the action on the far left of the stage? The right side of the stage is much more effective. Also, why didn’t the director have the actors use more of the stage rather than be scrunched up on the sides? Because of the compression, there were awkward moments.
This is a large cast and the costuming was extremely well done.
Samantha Tack played the title role and gave a good performance. She related well with the other actors and was convincing. She did however seem a tad bit young for a romance. As her two mean sisters Kayli Wade played Ruth and Rochelle Dula played Judith. They were a hoot and played by their own rules very well.
Pamela Beauchamp played Ash Girl’s Mother. Hers was a very strong performance and she was a convincing intimidator. Sierra Williams played Prince Amir, and while she gave a good performance, she needed to be a little more convincing.
Conner Hozwarth as the Owl and Steve Yerian as the Otter handled these roles nicely. Playing Sadness, Dawn Sabourin gave a good performance. Jeff Springay was fun to watch playing the Slothworm and proclaiming that he was a “Slug.” His neon green costume almost stole those scenes. He earned a well-deserved nap.
The Seven Deadly Sins were good, but didn’t create enough intensity. Some of them were not animated enough – The Slothworm is excused from that comment. Other than the Sloth, the only really animated one was Noah Beauchamp who played Greedmonkey. There was not a strong sense of ominousness or danger in the play. This was also true when Sadness and her followers were trying to seduce Ash Girl. The mice were cute and it was great when they practiced their gallop. Julianna McKay, who played the Fairy in the Mirror even she is not on the cast list, gave a good performance.
Overall, this is a good production. I like the attempt to give us a different version of Cinderella. If you’re looking for something with a different twist, this would be interesting to see. A round of applause is in order for the set designer and the costumer.
The Ash Girl performances will run June 18, 23, 24, 25, at 7:30 pm, and June 19 & 26 at 2:30 pm at Theatre 57 located at 2200 W. Vienna Rd., Clio MI 48420. Box office call 810-687-2566 or for tickets online at http://www.cliocastandcrew.com.