Angelmoth, Sadler's Wells, London

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The Independent Culture

Ballet Lorent's family show Angelmoth starts with a library. The characters come and go, dancing and clambering through the towering stacks of Phil Eddolls's terrific set. You can see their eccentricities and their cherished secrets in the way they move. Later, these people are drawn into a magical world – but they're stranger, and much more interesting, in the real world of the library.

The Newcastle-based company founded by choreographer Liv Lorent, Ballet Lorent, is particularly known for its site-specific works. Angelmoth is her first work created specifically for a family audience. Like the company's adult shows, it has a strong design element. Paul Shriek's costumes have a sense of period fantasy, with ruffles, lace and stylised bustles. Eddolls's library is gorgeous. Walls of books frame the stage, with shadowy corners and a wrought-iron staircase. A screen at the back shows a misty image of further galleries. It's also the doorway to the world of the Angelmoth, a winged creature who can make dreams come true.

Ben Crompton's voiceover narration introduces the characters and explaining turns in the plot. The heroine Pippanouska is a librarian, a lonely girl who was brought up by her grandfather. Lorent gives Gwen Berwick teetering pointework, sending her speeding about the library, moving among precarious heaps of books. Much of the story focuses on Madeline, the over-protective mother of Lydia. Caroline Reece and Meritxell Pan Cabo dance a clinging, suffocating duet, with some of Angelmoth's best imagery.

Lorent plays with a variety of movement. Madeline's coaching leads to a book-balancing dance, the whole cast shimmying along with books on their heads. The Angelmoth hangs on wires, Winifred Burnet-Smith twitching and fluttering like a moth battering itself against a light. Andy Ross's music bounces gleefully from waltzes to Latin rhythms, with wistful piano music to support the narrative.

The library characters make a perilous journey into the Angelmoth's world. The whole show becomes more mystical, and much more waffly, as the characters set about learning their moral lessons. Even the music loses its variety, become vague and dreamy after the energy and shuffle of the first half.

To 3 January (020-7863 8000)

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