Dec 9 2018 | By More

★★★★☆     Sparkling

Festival Theatre: Sat 8–Sun 30 Dec2018
Review by Hugh Simpson
Tickets and details: Book here.

Scottish Ballet’s Cinderella, back at the Festival Theatre this Christmas, is still a festive treat. Christopher Hampson’s celebrated production of Prokofiev’s ballet, originally seen in New Zealand and first presented in Europe by the company in 2015, has huge reserves of charm and elegance.

The story needs little introduction, of course, and those elements that might puzzle – a carriage powered by insects rather than rodents, for example – will not detract at all from a narrative that is instantly accessible and leaves plenty of room for beauty and humour.

Sophie Martin flies through the air as Cinderella in the shawl dance in Scottish Ballet's ballet - choreographed by Christopher Hampson.
Sophie Martin as Cinderella. Pic: Andy Ross

Just how funny it is may be the biggest surprise, with Grace Horler and Kayla-Maree Tarantolo as Cinderella’s cruel step-sisters (billed as ‘tall’ and ‘short’ respectively) often threatening to steal the show. Tarantolo in particular has the timing of a born comic.

Marge Hendrick’s hauteur as the stepmother and Christopher Harrison as Cinderella’s tippling father provide a mix of humour and pathos in a first act that mixes the comedy with some more emotive moments as Cinders mourns the loss of her mother.

Sophie Martin’s Cinderella has a winning combination of vulnerability and steel, exemplified by some rock-solid yet expressive en pointe work, as the downtrodden Cinders. This is in many ways more effective than her appearance as the tutued princess-figure in the ball scenes, as her pas de deux with Barnaby Rook-Bishop’s Prince takes some time to warm up. 

Their later duets, however, have a definite appeal – even if the connection between them never quite convinces. Rook-Bishop’s dancing with Evan Loudon and Thomas Edwards as his friends has a beautifully together, almost effortless feel.

magnetic grace

The gorgeous synchronisation of the corps de ballet impresses the most in the central scene, with the ballroom-inflected dancing having a magnetic grace, and providing an excellent setting for the various solo features.

The corps de ballet as Roses. Pic: Andy Ross
The corps de ballet as Roses. Pic: Andy Ross

Araminta Wraith’s Fairy Godmother has a languid, eerie stateliness, while Jamiel Laurence, as the dancing master and the grasshopper coach driver, displays an infectious athleticism.

Hampson’s inventive choreography, trading on the strengths of the dancers while never being a slave to tradition, is well served by Tracy Grant Lord’s design and George Thomson’s lighting. The Scottish Ballet Orchestra under Jean-Claude Picard are pin-sharp yet delightfully warm.

The freshness and approachability retained by this revival do all concerned great credit. Perhaps a smidgeon of its personality has been lost, and the humour threatens to overshadow the magic, but it remains a thing of considerable beauty.

Running time 2 hours 20 minutes (including two intervals)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Sat 8 to Sun 30 December 2018.
Wed – Sat (not Wed 26): 7.30pm. Matinees Thurs 20, Fri 14 & 28, Sats, Sun 23 & 30: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Cinderella on tour:
Sat 8 – Sun 30 Dec 2018 Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
Fri 4 – Sat 12 Jan 2019 Glasgow
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7647 Book online
Wed 16 – Sat 19 Jan 2019 Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
01224 641122 Book online
Wed 23 – Sat 26 Jan 2019 Inverness
Eden Court
01463 234234 Book online
Wed 30 Jan – Sat 2 Feb 2019 Newcastle
Theatre Royal
08448 11 21 21 Book online
Grace Horler (Tall step sister), Kayla Maree-Tarantolo (short step sister) and Jamiel Laurence (dancing master). Pic: Andy Ross
Grace Horler (Tall step sister), Kayla Maree-Tarantolo (short step sister) and Jamiel Laurence (dancing master). Pic: Andy Ross


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  1. Edith Ryan says:

    Beautiful production, flawless dancing, loved the humour. Must see!