Yeh Shen Is A Sparkling Chinese Cinderella Story

By Stuart Black Last edited 36 months ago
Yeh Shen Is A Sparkling Chinese Cinderella Story ★★★★☆ 4
Rebecca Yeo & Kerry Gooderson. Photo by Robert Workman.
Rebecca Yeo & Kerry Gooderson. Photo by Robert Workman.
Yeh Shen - Vicky Ireland - Yellow Earth and Polka Theatre - 31st January 2015

Director - Kumiko Mendl
Designer - Claire Lyth
Lighting - Chris Randall

Yeh Shen/Dragon/Dragon Spirit - Kerry Gooderson
Lu-Man/Mao/Cat - Anna Leong Brophy
Jun-Li/Fish/Fish Spirit - Rebecca Yeo
Ancestral Spirit/Elder Pen/General - Ashley Alymann
Chen Bei/King and Horse Spirit - Chris Chan
Musician/Peng-Jay/Guard - Zenghui (Joanna) Qiu
Yellow Earth: Chris Chan, Rebecca Yeo, Ashley Aylmann, Anna Leong Brophy, Kerry Gooderson. Photo by Robert Workman.
Yeh Shen - Vicky Ireland - Yellow Earth and Polka Theatre - 31st January 2015

Director - Kumiko Mendl
Designer - Claire Lyth
Lighting - Chris Randall

Yeh Shen/Dragon/Dragon Spirit - Kerry Gooderson
Lu-Man/Mao/Cat - Anna Leong Brophy
Jun-Li/Fish/Fish Spirit - Rebecca Yeo
Ancestral Spirit/Elder Pen/General - Ashley Alymann
Chen Bei/King and Horse Spirit - Chris Chan
Musician/Peng-Jay/Guard - Zenghui (Joanna) Qiu
Yellow Earth's Yeh Shen. Photo by Robert Workman.
Yellow Earth's Yeh Shen. Photo by Robert Workman.
Yellow Earth's Yeh Shen. Photo by Robert Workman.
Theo Lechev, critic (trainee), aged 6.
Theo Lechev, critic (trainee), aged 6.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

"This is the most boring play I've ever seen," says Theo Lechev, our six year old co-reviewer. We have to point out that the play hasn't actually started yet, to which he replies: "Oh". It seems Theo still has a bit to learn about this reviewing game.

When Yeh Shen does begin (a few moments later), Theo is sucked in and absolutely hooked for the entire running time. This is no mean feat because Theo can be quite a restless critic, usually preferring to watch Star Wars. In our post-show debrief he notes wisely that the Chinese fairy tale Yeh Shen has similarities to the Cinderella story, though the setting in ancient China adds a dreamy feel that reminded him of "being in space". He was especially drawn to the animal puppets, which also make this version of the play distinctive: "When the fish became a ghost and scared the cat up the wall — it was soooo funny!". This was about as much analysis as we got out of Theo before he ran off pretending to be the horse that saves the day at the end.

His enthusiasm speaks volumes. The skilful, versatile team of actors who make up the Yellow Earth theatre company have produced a terrific crowd-pleasing kids play here — funny, gripping and fresh even if you think you know the story already. Chinese elements are brought to the fore both within the story, with intriguing cultural elements, great costumes and sets and amazing live music played by Zenghui Qiu. This is superior, sophisticated children's theatre with a light touch and plenty of good gags. Or as Theo puts it: "Yes, I did like it: it was very funny and very excellent."

Yeh Shen continues at the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon with shows in February and March (including special schools performances). See the Polka Theatre website for more details. The show is then touring the UK with London stops in Finchley, Brentford, Greenwich and Shoreditch. See Yellow Earth's website for the full schedule.

Last Updated 23 February 2015