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Scottish Ballet's Snow Queen a visual feast as winter feast warms up Eden Court, Inverness with sumptuous set design and dancing from Bethany Kingsley-Garner, Constance Devernay, Barnaby Rook-Bishop and more


By Kyle Walker


REVIEW

Scottish Ballet: The Snow Queen

Eden Court, Inverness

****

THERE is something so magnificently chilly about the look of the Snow Queen, even in its warmest moments.

The video screens that frame the action at the start of both halves cast a veritable tundra of digital ice and snowfall across the stage, and crafting great mirrors of ice up from the ground. It is, frankly, stunning.

And from the sharp icy blues of the snow fields and castle, to the grey skies and muddy brown backgrounds of the village, the Snow Queen paints its winter’s tale in muted colours.

It makes the people that burst from those muted backgrounds burn all the brighter as they dance - the vivid red of Gerda’s cardigan and the deep summery green of Lexi’s shirt.

The allegory holds true for the Snow Queen as a whole, an impeccably crafted and slightly muted production that bursts into moments of grace and beauty.

A brisk hour and 50 minute production (including intervals), the production’s first half was a breathless display of craft and choreography, particularly once the circus came to town for an extended sequence of clowning and tumbling and sensationally precise movement - especially from Nicholas Shoesmith as the Strong Man.

The second half, plot wise, may have too much to tie up narratively - the last 25 minutes is a mad dash to the end - but still has room for one utterly spellbinding sequence of dancing in a bandit’s encampment, with Grace Horler and Jerome Barnes as Mazelda and Zac stunning in particular.

Throughout both halves, the four principal dancers acquit themselves as well as one would expect from a Scottish Ballet production - that is, to say, sublimely.

As Gerda and Kai, Constance Devernay and Barnaby Rook-Bishop have such a deep chemistry together when they dance - romance seeps from their duet around the town square for example..

As the Snow Queen, Bethany Kingsley-Garner is magnificent. Wonderfully sharp, her movement is beautiful, chilly and precise, at times resembling an ice sculpture come to life.

Yet the standout was in the role of Lexi/Summer Princess. Alice Kawalek is ferocious throughout her scenes, able to convey streetwise charm and a sense of wounded animalistic pride to her dancing and pickpocketing.

In those moments, Scottish Ballet brought the magic out and, in front of a sold out Eden Court, warmed the hearts of all who came out to see it.



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