You shall go to the Hall
Following their blockbuster shows in-the-round of Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, English National Ballet tackle Cinderella for their latest foray at the cavernous Royal Albert Hall. Instead of creating something entirely new, however, they’ve taken Christopher Wheeldon’s production for Dutch National Ballet and got him to adapt it for this unique space. And what a wonderful thing he’s created.
Choreographically, it’s not Wheeldon’s strongest piece but it does the job and there are plenty of funny cameos to enjoy; Tamara Rojo as the Stepmother is hilariously convincing when drunk and then hungover, for example. In fact, some of the side-stories are better developed than the main love interest of Cinders and her Prince – Katja Khaniukova’s Clementine and Jeffrey Cirio’s Benjamin came across as having a much more authentic attraction. Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernández in the title roles made a sweet enough couple but there was a lack of sparkle between them, no sense of a love beyond time.
It’s spectacle that makes this Cinderella work. The ‘back’ of the stage is filled with a screen onto which carefully thought out video-projections set the scene. The use of props and scenery is excellent, from the mobile archways, to the fireplace, to the magnificent chandelier that adorns the second act. Unobtrusive video projections are beamed down onto the floor and the tree that features so heavily in the proscenium production is recreated using an alluring array of silks. Most stunning of all is the stagecoach that closes act 1, a visual treat that brought the entire audience out in spontaneous applause.
The floor space is filled brilliantly, either through sheer numbers of dancers in sections such as the ballroom scene, or by the mobility of the performers roaming across the entire stage space in more intimate moments. Julian Crouch’s costumes are beautiful and, at times, wonderfully surreal, and the English National Ballet Orchestra played Prokofiev’s eerie score with true purpose. In short, Cinderella was a great night out at the theatre.
ENB’s Cinderella plays at the Royal Albert Hall until 19 June 2019. For more info and tickets, see the English National Ballet website.