Writer: Carol Ann Duffy
Director: Liv Lorent
Reviewer: Robert McMillan
The Festival Theatre stages a childhood classic reinvented by going back to its grim origins. Liv Lorent and Carol Ann Duffy present the story of Snow White, both recognisable and yet foreign to its audience.
Many years after becoming a widow, the Queen (Caroline Reece) sets out to seek a new husband by requesting the presence of a neighbouring king. However, the king becomes attracted to the Queen’s daughter, Snow White (Natalie Trewinnard), leading the Queen to plot her daughter’s death out of jealousy and spite.
Ballet Lorent’s production focuses more on theoriginal Brothers Grimm story, and is intersected with Duffy’s retelling of the fairy tale (which has been fully published in the programme). Duffy’s adaptation of the text became an essential part of the performance, permitting a blend of traditional, modern and often humorous elements to make a beautifully poetic show that honours her work.
While a very interesting take on the story of Snow White, the show shines a light onto a crucial character whose origin and history many may not be aware of. Reece’s portrayal of the Queen demonstrates a depth and emotion that she actually possesses, by showing how she is gradually consumed by her envy and greed – emotions that are not represented in the famous 1937 Disney movieSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This present form of Snow White, which majority of readers may be familiar with, also differs but still feels like the sweet and innocent character we know, courtesy of Trewinnard’s excellent performance.
Within the first act, we see how the beautiful things in life can allure both mother and daughter – jewels, clothing and ruby-red apples to name a few. But what starts out as sweet at first eventually reaches the peak of grotesqueness in true Brothers Grimm style by the end of the act. Director Lorent is clearly able to retain this beauty, even being able to turn an image of cannibalism into something akin to a Roman sculpture. Even the simplest moments, such as having characters move pieces of the ornate set during transitions, identifies the power and control they possess over the situation.
The show lacks seven dwarfs but makes up for it with seven equally manic miners – elegantly animalistic and tribal, providing a contrast to Snow White’s grace. Ballet Lorent breaks away from traditional ballet by performing more contemporary physical sequences, this could be seen as keeping in line with Duffy’s modernisation of the original story, but the production still seems more reliant on traditional ballet above all else.
According to the programme, the key goal of Ballet Lorent is to offer “high quality dance experiences by creating diverse and accessible work for all ages”. By incorporating visually striking images, a combination of movement sequences and the fascinating plot of Snow White, Ballet Lorent has created an production that can entertain both child and their parents alike.
Runs until 23 January 2016 | Image: Bill Cooper