It opens with a Prologue explaining the plight of the Prince, cursed for his callous ways to live as a Beast until he has learnt to love and earn love in return. An angry captive in his own castle, he captures a man for the theft of a single rose, but releases him in exchange for his daughter, Belle. Both girl and Beast are imprisoned in the castle peopled with the animals that were once the Prince’s household.
The BRB is known for its excellent character dancers, and choreographer Bintley plumbs the story for all its dramatic worth. The gradual love story between monster and girl, and the humbling of the Beast’s fierce pride, prove particularly fruitful, and an early pas-de-deux in Act I is a heady mix of tentative affection and latent terror.
Nor is the production afraid of the darker side of the fairytale;one highlight sees the corps de ballet as ravens circling Belle, until they bear her off to the Beast’s castle on ebony wings. Bintley is particularly adept at deploying large groups of dancers, and the Beast’s ball provides another glamorous example, a whirlwind of brightly coloured and bejewelled costumes. The ballet also contains a number of meaty roles for the company’s soloists, among them Belle’s two sisters and the sprightly little Vixen.
Set designs by Philip Prowse and Mark Jonathan are straight out of the richly inked pages of an ancient story book. In comparison to Belle’s fairly prosaic family home, the Beast’s mist-soaked castle has all the grizzled opulence of the Prince himself, in shadowy shades and burnished, peeling gold. The animal costumes are lavishly inventive, although the Beast must dance his emotion through an unmoving mask.
Critical reaction to the BRB’s Beauty and the Beast has ranged from positive to enthusiastic. What’s On Stage said: “… it fits them like a glove…full of all of the ingredients that make a fine ballet.” And for the Daily Telegraph, “ This is a wonderful piece of work: mysterious, ambiguous, magical (…)."
|What||Beauty and The Beast, Sadler's Wells|
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
14 Oct 14 – 16 Oct 14, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Sadler's Wells website|