By Timberlake Wertenbaker.
Cast: 4m., 8w., 9 either gender, doubling possible. In a big old house, Ashgirl lives huddled deep in the protection of an ashy hearth. With her mother dead and her father away, she lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters. When the invitation to the ball arrives from the prince, Ashgirl finds the strength to go with the help of her friends, some of whom come from expected places. When she gets home, Ashgirl realizes that in order to regain the fleeting happiness she found in the arms of the prince, she must fight the monsters who have slithered and insinuated their way into her heart and mind. She must believe in herself for ohers to do so. "…an ambitious play with hints of the Brothers Grim, medieval allegory and anthropomorphism…it has a quirky originality… [Ash Girl] is prey to self-doubt and is under the thumb of her stepmother, while her prince is an exiled Asian isolated and unhappy in his new country. Wertenbaker's biggest innovation is to suggest that the forest en route to the palace is populated by an animalized version of the Seven Deadly Sins, which are out to destroy humanity. She even adds a further allegorical figure, Sadness, who tries to tempt Ashgirl towards death, and battles with the Fairy in the Mirror for her soul. The result is like a mix of C.S. Lewis and Sondheim's Into the Woods: an eclectic fairy-tale anthology. Where Wertenbaker scores is in her eye for detail." (The Guardian, London) Area staging. Approximate Running Time: 2 hours.