An evening of pure joy is delivered by Liv Lorent, choreographer and artistic director of balletLORENT, with her truly family accessible work Rumpelstiltskin, the final part of a trilogy which began with Snow White and Rapunzel, all based upon the Grimms’ fairy tales. It is hard to pick out any particular performer, as this is a work of artistic collaboration of the highest order. Every principal dancer excels in their given role, with technical and physical ease, and depicts their emotional journey brilliantly. Whether on pointe, displaying acrobatic skill, or dancing with pure joy, they embody what dance and theatre should be.
The choreography also demands that, within the flow of the dance, the dancers handle complicated props and tricks with ease: one miss would break the magic spell. Homage to Gavin Coward as Rumpelstiltskin, as he produces gold from straw, causing the children in the audience to gasp. John Kendall, as the king, looms over the piece, handling the challenging scene of brutally rejecting his child and his concomitant grief with finesse. Natalie Trewinnard dances with brio as the shepherd’s daughter. And what can be said about Toby Fitzgibbons as the shepherd? He epitomizes the Cossack peasant with elevation and style as he oversees his flock.
The brilliant concept of ensemble dancers and community children performing as sheep and young peasants is outstanding, and totally believable, utilising clever choreography and staging, plus the expertise of rehearsal director, Debbi Purtill. The community elders also contribute to the group scenes, weaving, knitting, circling and turning alongside the professional cast, bringing a riot of scenic pleasure, emphasising the theme of spinning whether it be wool, gold or mythical creatures. The sense of collaboration is evident throughout each 40-minute act.
Every aspect of this production makes a statement of style and pays attention to artistic integrity. The score by Murray Gold (Doctor Who) spins the story, rolling from one emotion to another. It is both electronic and symphonic, ensuring the dancers never stop telling the story, and they clearly find it beautiful to dance to. There is a striking lighting design by Malcolm Rippeth and a set by Phil Eddols that could rival Disney. The costumes are the final touch, beautifully realised by Michele Clapton (Game of Thrones) in straw and gold.
With a scenario by Carol Ann Duffy, the poet laureate, and narration by Actor/Dramaturg Ben Crompton, you have master storytelling at its best. A final touch is a copy of the book by Duffy in the souvenir programme. The whirling finale is a breathtakingly beautiful end to a magical evening on the Eden Court mainstage.