Sunday, 22 December 2013

Scottish Ballet's Hansel and Gretel

A good while ago, we were offered tickets to review Hansel and Gretel, a Scottish Ballet production, and considering that Cubling hasn't been to a ballet yet and in fact, I've only ever been to one before (which was a very modern production that, well, was maybe not the best introduction to the genre), it was great opportunity.

From the above you can also tell that I'm no expert and it would seem presumptious to pretend I am and give Hansel and Gretel an expert review.

What I can say that it was a wonderful afternoon out. I was worried that Snowflake wouldn't be able to sit through it at her tender age of just 3, and that it may be aimed at adult ballet goers and not be suitable for children in general, especially as there was a different production aimed at children available too.

So I was prepared for having to nip out to keep a 3 year old happy, of it being a visit fraught with unsettled kids and not much enjoyment.

Much to my surprise this was not the case at all. Cubling was very much following every move on stage and simply got it. In fact, I could ask her what each dancer was impersonating when I didn't get it. Snowflake was also following the basics of the story, but got a bit confused by the changing set and didn't quite understand that the door that lead in was now a door that led out so that we were now looking at the inside of a house rather than the outside. Other than that I was more than surprised how much both children got out of the performance.

I suppose it was classic ballet, an orchestra underneath playing a very nice score, the dancers dancing pretty much as you'd expect a ballerinas to dance, the set design was magical, and both children sat for the full duration (ok, towards the end, Snowflake struggled a little bit, but nothing too serious).

It was dark enough to create serious suspense for Cubling (6 years old) but her fears (of the witch) never materialised because the production team was rather clever by making the actual witch a little bit comic and giving her a light grey outfit rather than the obvious choice of dark clothes. In fact, I was rather relieved because Cubling was so worried about the witch making an appearance that a scary looking witch may have sent her imagination out of the roof.

There were also pleasant minor departures from the traditional storyline which made the story more believable, and less dark. Yes, the witch was thrown into the oven eventually (Snowflake was not happy about this, even though the witch was a bad person, bless) but it was so close to the end that the witch almost instantly came out to the applause, clearly alive and unburned.

There was nothing to fault the production, it was simply beautiful in all aspects, music, dancing, costumes, set (oh the set... I just loved it).

All in all, it was magic on a dreich and dark December afternoon, there was hardly a better way to spend the day.

Hansel and Gretel is still touring until February throughout Scotland.

Full disclaimer: we were given tickets to see the ballet in return for a review post.

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