Arts Review: Cinderella

Scottish Ballet, Theatre Royal, 12th – 16th January 2016

Cinderella: the story of a girl subjugated in her own home, bullied by her evil stepmother and ugly stepsisters, who transforms into the belle of the ball with the help of a pumpkin and a fairy godmother and lives happily ever after with her handsome prince.  Scottish Ballet’s revisiting of one of the most famous fairy tales in the world is one saturated in romantic elegance; from the wild, almost enchanted art nouveau-style set design to the glittering costumes of the cast, this is a sumptuous production, dazzlingly evoking the magical spirit that has so long characterised the popular fairy tale.

Artistic Director Christopher Hampson originally created this version of Cinderella for the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2007 and December 2015 saw its European premiere in Edinburgh.  Together with set and costume designer Tracy Grant Lord, he has created a compelling reworking, set to Prokofiev’s sweeping music.  Sophie Martin is exceptionally graceful as Cinderella; her seamless movements are genuinely spellbinding and she brings a resilience (tinged with just the right amount of tragedy) to the role which is rooted in Hampson’s vision of the production as a personal journey for Cinderella as she copes with grief over the death of her mother.  But it isn’t all dark: Madeline Squire excels in the comedic take upon the younger stepsister, eliciting lots of laughs from the audience as the brightly coloured opposite to the glittering stoicism embodied by Cinderella.  

The production is charming and dreamy nonetheless. Beautiful dance sequences are performed to evocative waltzes, tableaux are staged almost as an aside for the audience which lend a wistful unreality to the performance. The final scene of Act 2, in which Cinderella flees the palace at midnight, is stirring and urgent, loud booming clocks abruptly interrupting a lingering romance.  The ballet finishes where it all began: Cinderella and her Prince meet by her mother’s grave, Cinderella newly clad in a blue dress that suitably looks like gossamer.  It’s a fitting ending to an enchanting production of Cinderella, but to be honest, I really didn’t want it to finish.  More ballet please.

[Rachel Walker]

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