Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hansel and Gretel last night from Scottish Ballet.

A re-interpreted version of the story. They are not starving so much as unloved by indolent drunken parents. They live in a village in which all the children have been stolen but they two. Nonetheless, they take it into their heads to run away. In a Narnia-worthy seduction scene, the witch lures them to her lair with lollipops. Some ravens (a cross between Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake and Grease) seal the deal for the less susceptible girl child. They rock up at the gingerbread house and start gorging as the fire blazes, ready to bake them.

Then I had a little nap. (But I knew from the programme notes that it all ended well. The kids weren't baked. They were saved. The curse was lifted. The other children were all therefore released. Everyone was happy. Hopefully the parents became less indolent so the wayward two didn't run away again.)

It was extremely pretty. It was extremely well danced. They have an international pack of dancers who all seem to be excellent. The choreography was a nice mix of astute and inventive and traditional tottering about on tiptoes that will have kept loyalists happy. It was a lovely show.

You'll deduce that I wasn't swept away by it. Though of course I might have been if only I'd stayed awake. But if you enjoy ballet and you like sparkly twinkly pretty things and you like a story of evil foiled and the good reunited, you'll most probably be quite content. And it looked good enough to eat.  

Thursday, December 08, 2016

This one, in the foreground, Cobweb from our Fringe show, last night graduated to playing Titania. So I got to see my beloved Midsummer Night's Dream again. And it was ace.
Some fierce editor had managed to slice the script so it ran at a tidy 53 minutes - with songs! But we still had Philostrate and we still had Egeus and the poor superfluous Fairy whom I ruthlessly cut from our version made an appearance too.

It was a school production so I was uncharitably apprehensive. Clearly Cobweb / Titania would be excellent or I wouldn't have cast her. But the others?

I need not have feared. The young lovers were delightful. Hermia was wearing a paticularly fetching yellow dress - that she didn't have to hitch up before she walked. 

Hippolyta was regal. Theseus was handsome and wise. The four named fairies and the bolt on were all nicely costumed. They danced - properly danced - which was impressive. Puck was a bit of a star. A she - which seems wrong to me as now, Puck should wear a tie and tails and be Matt - in green tights and twining leaves painted onto her face. All very leapy and spritey. The mechanicals were great fun - black t-shirts with their names printed on the back. I preferred our costumes - and Bottom was brilliant. Titania was regal and haughty and stupidly infatuated with the ass but then she danced with happy abandon at the end, reunited with her love. Who was the only slight let down. He announced the bank where the wild thyme grows far too fast. But then he was 15, maybe 16. You'd have to go some to out Oberon Gregor now, for my money. 

Interestingly, their Philostrate turned out to be a lecherous fellow too. This guy scampered on "late" for his final scene as he'd been pranking with Mustardseed (expressed beautifully in his smart slap on her rump) in a hideous coupling of mortal with fairy that nobody else seemed to mind. 

Two glorious things. All kids but they spoke Shakespeare excellently well. Hats off to them and their teachers.
And they brought such energy and excitement and cool-ness and a sort of urban streetwise grit to it that was infectious. This is how Shakespeare should be reinvented. I grinned through the whole thing. Just marvellous.