Peter And The Wolf Review 2010 – Sergei Polunin
Peter And The Wolf Review 2010

Peter And The Wolf Review 2010

Review: Peter and the Wolf & Faeries at Royal Ballet/Blind Summit Theatre Royal Opera House

WHILE there may a limited choice of Nutcrackers this year there is no shortage of high-calibre family shows and at Covent Garden one is spoilt for choice.

Peter and the Wolf
Sergei Polunin as the Wolf in “Peter And The Wolf”

On the main stage, preceding Tales of Beatrix Potter (which I will review next week) is Matthew Hart’s lively production of Peter and the Wolf, which alternates with Les Patineurs.

Gaudily costumed and superbly danced by students of the Royal Ballet School, this suffers slightly from minimalist ‘modern’ staging – a giant tree stump covered in graffiti – and lack of an onstage orchestra which might liven up the visuals.

No problems with the work itself, however, or the execution which is exemplary. The two adults – Grandfather/Narrator (Will Kemp) and Wolf (Sergei Polunin) strut their stuff magnificently- Kemp is Jackanory camp and Polunin leaps and twists and stalks as a really menacing Wolf.

But it is the ensemble that attracts the eye – whether dressed in green Carmen Miranda-like grass skirts and headdresses for the Meadow or silver/blue Afro wigs and blue bodysuits for the Pond – they move as one organism, interpreting Hart’s collective choreography with ease and humour. Best of all is Chisato Katsura’s Cat whose feline grace and sudden pounces are sensuously authentic and will guarantee her the Pussycat role in every ballet.Downstairs at The Linbury Studio, Will Tuckett’s Faeries is a moodily magical confection performed by young dancers, actors and puppeteers. Like Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, it is set in Blitz-torn London where Johnny (Femi Oyewole) and his young sister Beattie (Alex Newton) are separated at a train station on the eve of their evacuation to the country. Johnny runs away and enters Kensington Gardens after dark where he becomes embroiled in a conflict between good and bad fairies.

Against Martin Ward’s engaging score for clarinet (Derek Hannigan) and keyboard (John-Paul Gandy) he joins the quest for a golden coffin that will render the finder immortal. Dark and primal, with a great villain in scary fairy Dolour (“When war causes chaos I lick up the carnage”) – a puppet so malevolent that some kids rush for the exit – it is riddled with mischievous humour. I loved the trio of naughty fairies and the fat old Drone fairy – a cross between Yoda and ET – and judging by the audience reaction, I was not alone.The stage sometimes seems overcrowded and the puppeteers (who also voice the characters) are clearly visible but neither seems to bother the younger members of the audience whose imaginations are fuelled to the max.

Verdict: 4/5

PETER AND THE WOLF  and FAERIES. Royal Ballet/Blind Summit Theatre Royal Opera House, 020 7304 4000 until tomorrow/December 19
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