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Bite the Apple

nytheatre.com review by Josephine Cashman
August 11, 2012

What comes after the Happy Ending? Bite the Apple, written by Linda Manning and directed by Katherine M. Carter, is a thoughtful play, raising questions about love, identity, and being seen as you truly are, instead of who you are "supposed to be."

On the eve of her 20th wedding anniversary, Cinderella is stood up by her husband at a jazz club in the seedy part of town. Decisively indecisive, she meets Red, a young, edgy, troubled club kid, terrifically played by Amy Yong. Red tries on Cinderella's expensive shoes, and when Cinderella comments that Red looks pretty, Red angrily refuses to believe her.

In her unhappiness, Cinderella flees to the woods, where she meets Snow White. Snow has many unresolved issues surrounding her stepmother, and she overcompensates by being a Perfect Mom. But when Snow White meets the current queen, insomniac Briar Rose, she mistakes the queen for her stepmother. Annette Arnold does a glorious job when her Snow releases the tangled and anguished emotions she's been sitting on for so many years. Briar Rose tangles with Rapunzel, a disturbed Architect, who is then rescued by her friend Gretel. Gretel is the ultimate caretaker, who was unable to rescue her brother Hansel. Diana Zambrotta is a compelling Gretel, and I wish more time had been spent with such a richly created character.

The play is full of juicy ideas, but the pace sometimes struggles and some judicious editing would make this play even more captivating. Skillfully directing, Carter takes us on an odyssey of identity and self worth, and how the stories women tell themselves can become traps that keep them from moving forward. Sheryl Liu's scenic design gives us an eerie and sometimes frightening Fairyland.

Through all this, Cinderella's shoes change hands (feet?) from one heroine to the next. Are the shoes the answer to their pent-up discontent and fury or the cause? Are self-esteem and identity so easily found in an expensive pair of shoes, or should a fairy tale princess seek the answers within herself? Perhaps the happy ending, even if it's unhappy, is just the beginning of a new story. A new pair of shoes and a first step can be the end of an old tale, and the beginning of a brave new one.