Festival Theatre: Sat 5-Thurs 31 Dec 2015
Review by Susan Lowes
Scottish Ballet’s Cinderella is an emotional and visual treat, which lights up and enchants the Festival Theatre’s stage until 31 December.
The European premiere of Christopher Hampson’s ballet, originally created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2007, is wonderfully crafted. Scottish Ballet sparkles throughout – and that’s not just down to the number of sequins on the costumes.
Hampson’s telling of the classic fairytale is beautiful, clever and refreshingly inventive, showing Cinderella in a new light while still remaining remarkably true to the well-known tale.
This is production which is grounded very much in the real world, beginning with a small girl full of grief at the graveside of her mother. And then, suddenly, an unfolding world of magic and enchantment.
What is strikingly interesting in this telling however, is how separate fantasy and reality remain. The distinction between the two wonderfully brought to life through Tracy Grant Lord’s sumptuous set and costume design.
There’s a startling humanity to the characters and scenes of the real world, displayed wonderfully by Sophie Martin who initially plays Cinderella with a childlike innocence and grace. Her loneliness and grief are clearly evident as she adapts to her new life with her step-mother (Marge Hendrick) and step-sisters (Madeline Squire and Araminta Wraith).
This is contrasted by a fantastical spellbinding charm in the magical rose garden as silk moths, grasshoppers and spiders weave Cinderella’s gown for the ball. This is all accompanied by the timeless grace of Eve Mutso as The Fairy Godmother, appearing in her final production for the company.
Here the design elements and Prokofiev’s inspirational score combine with Mutso’s elegant precision to produce a calm, serene and reassuring effect that absolutely steals the show. There’s magic on the stage and it’s not just from the fairytale.
It’s not surprising then that Cinderella emerges a whole new girl – Martin shows her confidence and self-assurance as she dances in beautiful harmony at the Ball with her Princely soul-mate, danced by Andrew Peasgood. The bond between the two continues to grow until the completely emotionally connected climax.
However, certain elements of the production don’t quite fit against this emotionally mature backdrop. Squire and Wrath as the step-sisters are lurid and garish, playing their parts with an almost slapstick pantomime comedy in the first two acts.
While it undoubtedly takes a tremendous amount of skill to dance against their classical training, it’s overacted and feels slightly out of place. As the the duo enter the third act however, they do so with more humanity – in keeping with the real world created in the production.
That’s not to say there isn’t place for comedy in this show though. Matthew Broadbent’s comedic subtlety as the drunken, confused Father seems much more appropriate.There are also moments of pure delight that will have you laughing with glee – particularly at the beginning of Act three as the Prince searches for his soulmate.
There’s so much to love in the Scottish Ballet’s production of Cinderella. It’s stunning, spellbinding and surprising in equal measure – but, above all, it’s very well performed. If you’re looking for a truly magical Christmas show then look no further.