Jemma Beggs was at the Riverfront Theatre, Newport, to review Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs by Ballet Cymru.
Ballet Cymru return to The Riverfront Theatre with their latest dual production, Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, in celebration of Road Dahl’s centenary. Adapted from Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, Ballet Cymru have created yet another outstanding production to enrapt children and adults alike.
The performances are full of fun and personality; Red Riding Hood (Lydia Arnoux) oozes a sultry, 50s film star’s glamour and sass in contrast to the adorable, lovability of the silly little pigs and devious plotting of the wolf (Allegra Vianello). Mark Griffiths narrates the two pieces, smoothly switching between villainous wolf and deceptively innocent Little Miss Hood, whose character epitomises the overarching theme of this intriguing ballet in which nothing is as it seems.
Entire scenes are revealed to be no more than fanciful daydreams, preceding a far darker and harsher reality. Characters toy artfully with emotions, inciting a fickle pantomime hate one moment and a regretful pity the next. There is very little of the traditional to be found in any facet of the two productions, and this also goes for Paul Patterson’s surprising score which ranges from classical to Latin, each carefully thought-out piece of music giving the characters an added flair, accentuating their already vibrant personalities.
Steve Denton’s gorgeous costumes bring to life the various creatures of the two fairy tales, finding the balance between full blown animal costume and the beautiful ballet attire audiences expect. Understated full body leotards encase the woodland sprites like a second skin, perfectly showcasing their every move. The contrast between the strength and delicate beauty of the ballet dancers is at times exhilarating.
Darius James & Amy Doughty’s animalistic choreography is effortlessly embraced; each dancer shining individually with their own unique interpretation of the movements, whilst maintaining the tight synchronicity that characterises a well-knit dance company. Both productions are extremely tongue in cheek, harnessing the darkly comic tone Roald Dahl is renowned for. Yet the dancers preserve their elegance, revealing an impressive ability to retain their graceful style even as they perfectly embody the characteristics of a foolish pig or boozy Grandmother.
Humour runs deep throughout, as you would expect; the comedic choreography and skilful characterisation of the dancers enhanced by Patterson’s musical scores and Mike Holden’s expertly timed sounds. The presence of a live orchestra would have elevated the two shows from exceptional to phenomenal, and in fact, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be playing live for a special performance at Wales Millennium Centre in December.
Jemma Beggs is a frequent contributor to Wales Arts Review.