BALLET REVIEW: Seasons in our World / Peter and The Wolf ★★★

Seasons in our World / Peter and the Wolf
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Friday 10th - Saturday 11th May 2019

That’s a sense of warmth and controlled chaos as you walk into the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, where costumes from previous Birmingham Royal Ballet productions are displayed, and activities are being held in the bars on all levels on the front of house foyers. What’s even more heartwarming though is to see the openness of Ballet being an inspiration for the younger generation, as the auditorium is filled with families ready to watch, what might be the case for most children, their first experiences with Ballet, and for the most part, BRB’s newest creations are a triumph, though it may seem to cater to a more generic standard.

Split into two acts with an extended twenty-five minute interval, Seasons in our World starts the proceedings, and instantly we are treated to a beautiful score composed by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and conducted by Paul Murphy. What is most upsetting though is the lack of creativity of stage, consisting of the most part one backdrop with a built in forest setting, which makes appearances when backlighting is enhanced to represent the Autumn season. With the seasons in mind, this performance does little to fully immersive itself within these seasons, with choreographer Lachlan Monaghan showing little vision to capture the Summer in particular, which can be confusing and not often with clarity.

Peter and the Wolf on the other hand, conducted by Murphy with music from Sergei Prokofiev after special permission from Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers, is vibrant in colour and setting, re-imagined on a building site with a full two storey scaffolding tower to match. What’s incredibly clever and thought through about this performance though in particular is the use of instruments to indicate the difference in characters; Peter is represented through Strings, The Bird is through flute, The Duck through an Oboe, The Cat through a Clarinet, the Grandfather through a Bassoon, the Wolf through three horns, and the Hunter’s through Timpani and a bass Drum. The inclusion of this will help children indicate the characters of stage, and through the help of a voice over which narrates the story through, though I found this took time to get used to, against the usual normality of ballet, it will enhance the enjoyment of younger audiences and will leave them hopefully further inspired by a new form of art on stage, that doesn’t always have to be through spoken word.

Overall, though the standard of performers on stage should very much be commended, Seasons in our World / Peter and the Wolf ultimately is a shaky mixture, which I believe had the order been changed around with ‘Peter…’ performed first, this would be a more appropriate gateway to allow audiences with smaller members of the family to depart within the interval, as ‘Seasons…’ seems unnecessary, unsuitable, and an odd choice to pair, where in some cases this may very well be a young child's first time to the ballet.

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