The first fairy stories were never intended for children

Stories are fundamental to humanity and no one can guess how far back they go — long before they were first recorded, no doubt. As Thomas Mann says at the beginning of Joseph and his Brothers: The further down into the lower world of the past we probe and press, the more do we find that the earliest foundations of humanity, its history and culture, reveal themselves unfathomable. The existence in different cultures and remote places of tales similar to Cinderella, for instance, suggests ur-stories, common ancestors millennia old. There is no accessing those original folk tales. All we can say is that they were already very deep-rooted when they

Glib and snarky: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, at Gillian Lynne Theatre, reviewed

It’s a rum beast the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Cinderella is set in Belleville, a European city of 18th-century vintage, whose inhabitants are fixated with the body beautiful. Cinderella, a pasty Goth, rejects this ethos and vandalises a statue that commemorates a handsome prince who recently died in battle. Cinders is punished by being chased into a forest and tied to a tree but she’s rescued by her best friend, Prince Sebastian, who will inherit the throne as soon as he marries. Sebastian and Cinders are pals whose friendship is destined to blossom into romance. They can’t see this. We can. And that’s the story. Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell has