27 December 2007

Les Patineurs/Tales of Beatrix Potter - Royal Opera House - 23rd December 2007

Two essentially plotless ballets for our Christmas visit to the Opera House, which was packed out with posh anklebiters called Jocasta and Jamie with their suited Daddies (still slightly hung over from the office Christmas bash) and their dressed-up-to-the-back-teeth mummies. How I do loathe the over-privileged little bleeders!

Les Patineurs (The IceSkaters) is a lovely little ballet about several groups of people iceskating. Nothing else - no plotline, no real story, just nice music and pretty dancing. And very charming I found it too - the set was lovely, with arched trellises hung with Chinese lanterns against a darkening and starry sky. All the various couples danced wonderfully and with a sense of humour appropriate to the lighthearted choreography. The one soloist - The Blue Skater - was fantastic and his final set of pirouettes (maintained as the curtain came down, went up again and came down for the final time) deservedly got a huge round of applause.

I had a bit of a problem with Tales of Beatrix Potter - and I think backstage had trouble with it too. The format is difficult - some of the stories are portrayed with considerable detail, others are reduced to mere vignettes. Peter Rabbit, for example, is reduced to doing a bit of a jig about in front of some cabbages, and thats it, Jeremy Fisher hops about, goes fishing and has a spot of bother and thats it - and then we get Pigling Bland trotting about the countryside for nearly 15 minutes, while Johnny TownMouse is reduced to a bit part in one dance. Bizarre. I concluded that you had to be far more familiar with some of Potter's more obscure characters to really know what the narrative thread was. There were several very dodgy lighting cues and Jeremy Fisher was desperately underlit throughout.

My favorite section "Two Bad Mice" was probably the best of the lot, but even this wasnt without its technical problems - the front of the dolls house rose, got stuck, stayed there for at least three minutes and then continued going up - only just in time. CBB thought afterwards that it might have been that the backstage can't really cope with a huge number of quick scene changes - if this is so, then they're all bloody well overpaid!

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