Beauty and the Beast
A beautiful beast of a ballet
This week The Bristol Hippodrome welcomes The Birmingham Royal Ballet as they captivate audiences with their portrayal of Beauty and The Beast.
The temptation when thinking about Beauty and The Beast is to visualise the soft pastel lines of Walt Disney’s fluffed up fairy-tale, or the slightly more feminist interpretation of Belle recently offered by Emma Watson.
But Birmingham Royal Ballet Director David Bintley CBE had very different plans.
Dramatic, dark and imaginative, his masterful portrayal of this classic love story left the audience noticeably mesmerised and, at times, touched by the tenderness of the central relationship.
The show opened with a magical scene where we witnessed a cloaked Woodsman (Jonathan Payn) punish a cruel prince (Tyrone Singleton) by turning him into a wild beast.
Following this, the set (designed by Philip Prowse) transformed from dark and sinister to bright and cheery as we were introduced to Belle (Delia Mathews) and her family, notably her father The Merchant (Michael O’Hare).
Facing financial hardship after losing his ships at sea, The Merchant goes to find his lost fortune only to get caught in a storm and seek refuge in a castle.
As he leaves, he picks a rose for Belle, only to be confronted by a monstrous beast, outraged by the theft. In exchange for his life, he offers the Beast his daughter Belle.
What unfolds from there is a complex and often volatile interaction between Belle and the Beast.
Danced with tremendous feeling, the pair effortlessly engaged the audience in a beautiful display of evolving affection and sometimes aggression.
And they weren’t the only ones!
The entire choreography by David Bintley was flawless from the outset with every single cast member delivering exceptionally technical movements.
Sometimes ambiguous but never boring, the ballet adapted itself to suit audiences of all ages.
Children as young as six remained awestruck throughout the two hour performance, while ballet enthusiasts were able to appreciate the highly complex choreography, as well as the stunning music expertly directed by Koen Kessels.
In fact, Kessels himself was a joy to watch, and took the limelight as any conductor with that skill and stamina should.
Overall, the Birmingham Royal Ballet managed to make ballet accessible, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable.
Review: Emma Rowlands
Photographs: Top Delia Mathews as Belle and Tyrone Singleton as the Beast by Bill Cooper, Delia Mathews as Belle by Caroline Holden and The Ball Scene Birmingham Royal Ballet company also by Bill Cooper
Beauty and the Beast plays at the Bristol Hippodrome Theatre until Saturday, May 4. For online tickets from £13.90 click HERE.