Scottish Ballet's new Cinderella, with choreography by artistic director Ashley Page, is energetic and lurid. Using Prokofiev's score, Page and his designer Antony McDonald set the ballet in 18th-century France, updated with acid colour and Vivienne Westwood touches. This isn't a Cinderella for enchantment or romance. The company is lively, and Nicholas Kok conducts a bold performance, but dancing takes second place to the concept.
Page and McDonald are fascinated by fashion, by conspicuous consumption, by vulgarity. Cinderella's stepmother reveals her ghastliness by redecorating the house in shocking pink. The kitchen, untouched by decorators, features a mountain of dirty dishes.
The stepfamily are vain and cruel rather than ugly. Eve Mutso's Stepmother stalks about in pink overdress, brandishing a whip, while the Sisters (Patricia Hines and Diana Loosmore) prod Cinderella, force her head into the sink, tip her mother's ashes over her.
The world of the court is almost as vain. The second act opens in a powder room. The Prince's would-be brides stare out, as if looking in a mirror, primping and jostling. The ballroom has the best dances, some swirling, whirling numbers for the corps.
McDonald's designs give the production its strongest theatrical moments. Cinderella sets off for the ball in a pumpkin hot-air balloon. When the prince sets out to find her, McDonald's backdrop shows a pack of beautifully painted playing cards bearing the faces of visiting princesses; below, the feet are entertainingly weird: a pig's trotter, a webbed foot.
If only the choreography had invention to match. Page's fairy solos are weak, and weakly characterised. The four dancers do classical steps with a few wriggles and angles.
If the Season Fairies lack identity, so does Page's choreography for his heroine. Claire Robertson is a sweet Cinderella, bringing off the ballroom dances with a flourish. Yet Page barely leaves room for her relationship with Cristo Vivancos's Prince. Page just isn't interested in the heart of his fairy tale. All his attention goes to the ugliness of the stepfamily. He even gives his ballet a mean-spirited ending: the rejected stepfamily, now blind, limp painfully across the stage, while the Fairy Godmother whisks Cinderella's father away from them.
To 31 December (0141-240 1133), then touring to Edinburgh Festival Theatre and His Majesty's Theatre, AberdeenReuse content