REVIEW: Scottish Ballet's Cinderella
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by Margaret Chrystall
SCOTTISH Ballet’s Cinderella took you from a sad once-upon-a-time to happy ever after in three acts of sparkling storytelling.
And if the production had come with its own scratch and sniff perfume it would have been roses, a motif that Christopher Hampson’s version used from the pink petalled moon in the sky (also a little bit like a diamond) to the corps de ballet decked out as roses and the jewel-encrusted rose that he gave Cinderella produced by her to reveal she was the ball’s mystery woman.
As Eden Court’s audience settled at the start, a funeral party on stage dispersed to leave Cinders as a sorrowing young girl plucking a rose from her dead mother’s grave. And as the traditional story – with its Hampson tweaks – unfolded, we saw Cinderella blossom into a princess in front of our eyes.
Scottish Ballet’s artistic director added the opening scene with Cinderella as a little girl, the opening scene of Act III as cobblers in head-lamps tried to reproduce Cinderella’s glittering shoe and the quirky follow-up moment as sets of legs lit up as the search for the fitting foot began.
But the biggest Hampson impact on the show was turning Cinderella’s nasty stepsisters into a comedy double act that saw Eve Mutso and Sophie Martin - shrugging off their usual roles as the company’s graceful heroines – have a lot of fun and almost steal every scene they were in.
Leading up to the ball, Hampson had his hired dancing master longingly eye up the graceful Cinderella’s moves he hadn’t been paid to improve and giving up on the clumsy, untalented pair he was expected to teach.
And at the ball, the sisters’ bid to get themselves a man made a mesmerising pantomime - Eve bowing to the prince and ending up staring at his crotch, Sophie lifting up her skirt to show her pants and making the kids in the crowd giggle, both fancying one of the prince’s friends and Eve bullying the other one who runs off rather than dance with her when he gets the chance.
But thanks to Bethany Kingsley-Garner’s touching portrayal of Cinderella, the central love story with the Prince stayed in its rightful place – like the clean, traditional choreography – at the heart of the show.
The pair’s series of Act II solos and pas de deux can seem long drawn out as their growing love is expressed in some of ballet’s most beautiful and challenging steps. Flying grand jetes and the precise criss-crossing feet of petits battements for him, perfectly-balanced pirouettes and elegant arabesques and attitudes for her. But in this performance, the audience seemed anything but bored, applauding spontaneously for both Kingsley-Garner and Christopher Harrison as the Prince at the end of each section.
Under the fairytale stuff, Hampson’s version shows us a sad little girl become a woman who’s a perfect fit for a princess’s sparkling shoes.