Writer: Carol Ann Duffy
Music: Murray Gold
Director: Liv Lorent
Choreographer: Liv Lorent
Reviewer: Beverley Haigh
The well-known tale of Snow White is revisited and retold through the delightful blend of dance and effective storytelling technique from the accomplished and award-winning balletLORENT. Artistic Director Liv Lorent has remained faithful to the original Brothers Grimm fairytale in what will become a trilogy of the traditional tales, beginning with Rapunzel and now followed successfully with this current touring production of Snow White.
There is the inclusion of updated text with Carol Ann Duffy’s reworking of the narrative, providing a modern interpretation of the tale, which essentially is exploring the theme of ageing and the importance of beauty within society: the Queen converses with the mirror and is told, “Your beauty is still there, even though you dye your hair”, and “Your beauty is a gift, from scissors, surgery and face lifts”. Lorent stays true to the original version where it is actually the mother, not the step-mother who wishes Snow White dead, fuelled by her jealousy of her own daughter, which makes for a much darker story than the softened interpretation so many of us are familiar with, and balletLORENT execute it perfectly.
The character depiction is strong and the dance is effective. The signature style of contemporary dance blended with the balletic roots that balletLORENT execute so well and now seem recognised for, create an almost pagan-like quality to the performance. The production is also expanded to incorporate the talents of local children who have rehearsed alongside the cast to produce wonderful scenes, generating an indigenous community sense to the piece.
The dance itself is not outstanding – at times seeming more like a visual aid to the narrative being told through voice-over, rather than being integral to the piece. However, it is more than adequate for this production, with the exception of Gwen Berwick who plays The Mirror, reflecting the jealous Queen’s behaviour back to her. The dance of remorse performed by Berwick en pointe is beautiful – captivating and accomplished, but also cleverly utilised as it is the only inclusion of traditional ballet within the entire piece, and, therefore, all the more striking and effective for it.
Visually, the piece is stunning. Natalie Trewinnard is the quintessential Snow White with her black as ebony hair and blood red lips, the neutral costumes contrasted against the backdrop of bold colours of the set and lighting. It almost seems a shame when there are so many effective qualities and storytelling techniques deployed, that at times the performance leans too heavily and appears to rely (unnecessarily) too much on the spoken narrative rather than on the performers’ merits – despite making the plot easier to follow for the younger audience members, the spoken word at times felt slightly overused.
The rest of the performance is strong: the character depiction is convincing, the almost comedic rôles of the seven miners allows the production to diversify slightly with their grungy, well-chosen music. The execution and performance of Snow White proved enough to satisfy both the seasoned theatre goer and the unadulterated naïve imagination of any child. balletLORENT surely have future treats in store with it’s third offering in this exciting and innovative series.
Runs until 31st October 2015 | Image: Ian West