Scottish Ballet: Hansel & Gretel
Brothers Grimm classic gets a lavish treatment by Scottish Ballet
Decapitated teddy bears, sawn off legs, kidnapping, force feeding, drugging small children – it's all pretty standard fare in the world of the Brothers Grimm, or in children's light entertainment in general, come to think of it. There are flashes of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang throughout Scottish Ballet's adaptation of Hansel & Gretel (hunchbacked baddies who prance with joy at the thought of locking children behind bars) and The Witches (gurning women with itchy, flaky scalps and a disgust for young people).
Hansel & Gretel is the first ballet choreographed by Scottish Ballet's artistic director, Christopher Hampson since joining the company, and the sparkling costumes and candy stripe sets have been dusted down for an extended festive run this year following its premiere in 2013.
In the tradition of Christmas shows, the plot wavers between forces of light and dark, tightroping between good and evil. The audience gets a mixture of chocolate box, twinkly scenes, with Disney princess ballgowns, dainty pas de cinq and lush orchestral strings wedged in amongst dark and foreboding forest sequences, where leather-jacketed ravens swoop down to steal the children's Mother's Pride bread crumbs.
A rag doll dance is a highlight, with floppy limbed toys collapsing and pirouetting around the witch's kitchen before being slammed back in the cupboard. An enchanted buffet table marks the turning point, where the prim schoolteacher morphs from a flying 1950s starlet into a malevolent witch, danced by the excellent Araminta Wraith. Hypnotising the children with spells, power-ladelling custard into their faces; her jaunty evil genius dance is a nice offset to the cutesy tutus and neat chorus lines, and she is rewarded for her creepy performance with suitably loud boos when she eventually gets a shove into the fiery furnace.
Seen at Edinburgh Festival Theatre.