Little Red is a dark yet comic adaptation of the classic folk tale (4 stars)

Children's dance review: Little Red

credit: Ian Watson

Barrowland Ballet's dance piece is one to watch again and again

Dark in the woods of the unconscious, Barrowland Ballet sniffle out fears and intrigues to create an involving but unnerving take on the Little Red Riding Hood folk tale for older children and adults.

There's enough dance here to keep the buffs happy, but the main focus is on the story itself. The way through the woods is guided by the skittering of techno breakbeats and rolling thunder of electronic bass in Kim Moore's score – with the odd ironic nod to fifties popular music.

Many adaptations of Little Red Riding Hood for older audiences interpret it as a coming-of-age tale. Instead, choreographer Natasha Gilmore and director Robert Alan Evans seek a playful element around which to weave their tale of darkness and empowerment. They might open with an enormous shriek of fear, but when the wolf appears bottom first, tail wagging and grasping, comedy begins to take over. And the Wolf's passing of Granny's glasses after she has been eaten, is the perfect melding of disgust with delight.

A trio of dancers play Little Red herself – Adrienne O'Leary, Kai-Wen Chuang and Vince Virr, which means she can have three interpretations as they scatter about the stage or one element can be reinforced as they dance in unison. These are the only dancers, however, so they are the Wolf, too, and Granny – although there is no woodcutter here, just an exploding stomach for the greedy wolf. And gender is an interestingly malleable element of character.

Fred Pommerehn's darkly lit set is made from towering stacks of chairs, which provide both a forest feel and structure for plenty of surprise elements. And it is this sense of playful surprise which is the piece's greatest asset. Little Red is a show you would happily watch again and again, no doubt finding greater significance on each viewing.

Seen at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Little Red

A dance theatre show that tells the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood but with a contemporary twist, as three dancers perform the same role in turn. Ages 7-12 years.

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