Touring – reviewed at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Guest reviewer: Melanie Mitchell
Being a ballet novice, I was a little unsure what to expect from this production. I have to say, that in my humble opinion, The Little Mermaid is a masterful adaptation, especially as the idea to create a completely new ballet was only borne in September 2016. David Nixon and his team have produced a stunning piece of work in only 13 months.
Most of us know the story of The Little Mermaid from the now famous Disney film and show; however, those of us, perhaps a bit older will remember the much darker and sinister tale by Hans Christian Andersen. This is the tale on which the production is based.
After seeing the picture of a handsome young prince in a locket, Marilla a young mermaid falls in love. On rescuing the prince from a shipwreck she longs to be with him and sacrifices her beautiful voice in exchange for human life. Although she is able to walk, every step causes her unimaginable pain, yet she is unable to cry. The principal dancer made this feeling so palpable with her agonised movement and silent screams.
Disorientated, the prince awakens and mistakes a passing girl for the owner of the beautiful voice he had previously heard, the mermaid is now unable to tell him that it was her, shattering her dreams and aspirations. This production doesn’t have the happy ever after of the Disney story and is true to the Andersen original with its moral core.
The staging and costumes are stunning, with the colours and fabrics perfectly reflecting the magical dwellers of the sea and the hard solid land. Absolutely transporting the audience to the ethereal reflective underwater world. The dancers especially the principles and soloists are magnificent, moving with absolute grace and ease. The strength of the male dancers is incredible with the females looking absolutely weightless as if under the waves at times. I wondered how it would be possible to give the impression of the graceful movements of the mermaids. This has certainly been achieved and it is truly mesmerising.
The music, an original score composed by Sally Beamish is hauntingly beautiful throughout, perfectly suiting and setting the tone and mood to every scene. It is played wonderfully by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, with John Pryce-Jones as its musical director.
This World Premiere production makes for a truly magical evening at the theatre. If you are already a lover of the ballet, a newcomer as I am, or have never seen one, then I urge you to see it if you can and be immersed into the mystical, magical underwater world.