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THEATRE REVIEW: FTN reviews Hansel and Gretel at the Grand Opera House, Belfast

February 6th, 2014 by Big Phil Comments

The Scottish Ballet’s Hansel and Gretel
At the Grand Opera House, Belfast
Until February 8th
Tickets and more info here

Unwrap a tasty new winter treat with the world premiere of Christopher Hampson’s fantastical Hansel & Gretel as Scottish Ballet return to the Grand Opera House Belfast.

Meet Hansel, Gretel and a bewitching ballerina who is not at all that she seems. Deliciously surreal, mouth-wateringly inventive and with more than a sprinkle of festive magic – do you dare to go down to the woods this winter on an enchanted journey with Scotland’s national dance company?

This brand new Hansel & Gretel takes creative twists and turns inspired by the Grimm Brother’s famous fairy tale – and the stories and imagination of the people of Scotland. Humperdinck’s evocative score is performed live by the Scottish Ballet orchestra.

Hansel (Constant Vigier) and Gretel (Sophie Martin) are two children, desperate to leave their home and venture out into their village and beyond. Sadly though, their parents have other ideas for there is an evil that has come over their village; that evil has kidnapped all of the children leaving Hansel and Gretel the only ones left.

One evening, Hansel and Gretel leave their home and, wandering through their village, they take a diversion through the forest. The forest is enchanted and soon the children are over-awed by dreams of desserts and teacakes, of galas and dancing, all thanks to a kind witch. But not everything is as it seems in this forest…..

Hansel and Gretel is a lavish ballet production which has set the story in a 1950s period. This re-telling of sorts fits perfectly with the original story as it really does come into its own in the dream sequences and especially the second Act.

The choreography is superb and the performances of Hansel and Gretel are perfect in their portrayal of youthful love, happiness and even sibling rivalry. However, it is The Witch (Eve Mutso) who steals this show! Her portrayal and transformation of a kindly and vibrant Witch toan old hag is truly mesmerising.

Added to this production is the high drama and, more importantly, comedic interplays between the main characters. Indeed it is hard to watch and focus on a single piece when there is literally so much interplay and humour on the stage.

The stage and sets are both visually appealing and highly functional. The changes in sets and pieces are virtually flawless and there is certainly one main piece of set design that will have audiences young – and young at heart – watering at the mouth and that is The Gingerbread House; trust me, this is more than just eye candy!

Hansel and Gretel is a story that almost every child will know, though I doubt many will be familiar with this particular interpretation. The score, composed originally by Engelbert Humperdink (the 19th Century composer and not the crooner), is performed live by a full orchestra and thankfully not by a background CD.

This is perfect entertainment for young and old, with great characters, superb visual and audio performances and punctuated with brilliant humour throughout, a great evening’s entertainment.

4 out of 5 Nerds


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I arrived on Earth in 1977 and have virtually devoted my entire existence to cult films, television programmes and cartoons. I am a very big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek; I may struggle with foreign languages but I can order live Gagh in Klingon! I’m the Nerd that knows the trivia but I’m hopeless at sport!