I am all for the fairy tale fun we have been having in the last couple of years. There has been a melody of interesting takes on Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, the Wicked Witch, and so on, both on the screen and in literature. So, why not a play about six of Grimm’s hottest heroines?
Only, in Bite The Apple by Linda Manning, the princesses and damsels are in a different type of distress—middle age. Cinderella, played by Diana Henry, has the great shoes but her Prince Charming has deserted her out of boredom. Red, played by Amy Young, is a gutter punk no longer getting pursued by the wolf, but chasing him instead. Snow White, played by Annette Arnold, remains a child trapped in a 40-year-old body, so afraid of everything, that she abandons her kids. Manning’s own character Rapunzel, has gone completely crazy without her prince or her twins, and has locked herself in a tower of her own making. Finally, Gretel, played by Diana Zambrotta, is still sweet, but now alone since Hansel died. While all these ideas sound like a story, the actual production left me feeling, well, nothing.
At first, it had mystery as Red and Cinderella seemed like older versions of their younger counterparts. They weren’t happy, but neither had they digressed beyond the basic character. Things had fallen apart and their happy ending wasn’t working out the way they had hoped. Once we moved on to Briar Rose, commonly referred to as Sleeping Beauty, things got a little off. Why was she so unhappy in the castle? How did she fall asleep under the tree? We never find out. As for Rapunzel, I had to look back into the program to figure out who she was. The only sign given was the desert setting, but even that fell flat. The circumstances that made her go off her rocker were never made clear, but we do know she managed to pull out of the sandy spot in her head long enough to talk to Gretel. As for that character, I didn’t see the growth or story, save for her rescuing her brother.
For the amount of time the play had, there was a lot that could have been done. Instead, I often felt uncomfortable in my seat watching these women deteriorate, which, could be what Manning had in mind. Still, what I experienced was more out of restlessness than emotion. It’s not that I seek the happily ever after, more, I didn’t buy the stories strewed before me. Save for Cinderella and Red, the rest of the play went nowhere.
Bite the Apple
The Other Mirror
Writer: Linda Manning
Director: Katherine M. Carter
Cinderella is a past-her-prime trophy wife, Red Ridinghood lurks outside bars waiting for the wolf, and Snow White wants to kill her kids. Your favorite fairytale princesses are clearly beyond their “happily ever after,” which path do they take from here?
1h 30m Local Manhattan, New York
Staycation: Literary Lane In Someone Else’s Shoes
VENUE #14: New Ohio Theatre
Sat 11 @ 9 Sun 12 @ 12 Tue 14 @ 3 Thu 16 @ 4:15 Sat 18 @ 8