Life & Culture

Dance review: The Sleeping Beauty, ‘I prefer a dancing Lilac Fairy’

Much to enjoy – shame about the wigs


Max Maslen as Prince Florimund (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

The Sleeping Beauty


Sadlers Wells

The Birmingham Royal Ballet gave a few performances at Sadler’s Wells Theatre last week of Peter Wright’s fine production of The Sleeping Beauty.

The most obvious difference between this production and the one currently performed by the larger company based at the Royal Opera House is that here, the Lilac Fairy – the force for good throughout the fairytale – is reduced to mime, whereas at Covent Garden it is a “tutu role”. This means that the fairy merely glides around the stage, arms aloft, looking serene while moving along the story in mime. It works well, but I prefer a dancing Lilac Fairy. At the performance I saw, her evil counterpart Carabosse was danced by a man – Gabriel Anderson – who managed to look very glamorous and menacing at the same time. The lighting for Carabosse’s first entrance and subsequent famous mime scene was far too dark. We know she is wicked, but she and her attendants are all clad in black, so a little more light would have been welcome.

Princess Aurora was danced by the petite Miki Mizutani, who managed to inject some personality into the fearsome Rose Adagio. She coped with the balances with ease, even if she did not hold them for long. She excelled in her solos; she has beautiful, speedy footwork, but I did not detect much chemistry between her and her Prince, danced by Max Maslen. To be fair, the Prince in this story has little to do other than walk around looking moody in the vision scene; he falls in love in an instant and then he is off to find his beloved. On the Sadler’s Wells stage there was no boat to guide him, only a corps of fairy beings and an excess of dry ice.

The dancing was good – though one unfortunate fairy took a tumble right at the end of her variation in the Prologue – and if anything, the corps men outshone the women. The sets, in golds and browns, work well in the space available. I do have a problem with some of the costumes. It would be nice to differentiate more between the various fairies and the poor courtiers are lumbered with some of the most unflattering wigs I have ever seen.

The company, though based in Birmingham, regularly tours the country so if you do not get the chance to see them in the capital, it is well worth a trip to Manchester, Bristol, Sunderland or one of the other big cities they visit.

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