Coppelia, London Coliseum, review: Warm and bright


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The Independent Culture

Coppélia is classical ballet at its bounciest, complete with clockwork toys, a resolute and stroppy heroine and a tuneful Delibes score. English National Ballet’s happy revival sails along, given an extra boost by Danish guest star Alban Lendorf.

Eccentric inventor Doctor Coppélius makes a life-sized doll, to the fascination of his mittel-European village. Then he tries to bring the doll to life by stealing Franz’s life force, until the heroine Swanilda comes to her boyfriend’s rescue. Ronald Hynd’s production adds too much fussy detail, but Desmond Heeley’s designs conjure a world of red boots and floral embroidery.

ENB’s artistic director Tamara Rojo isn’t a natural Swanilda. Despite strong technique, she lacks spontaneity and mischief in the village scenes. She’s more fun when she imitates the Coppélia doll, switching from mechanical bounce to human vanity as she tries out steps and accessories.

When Lendorf chats to the audience in mime, it’s as if we’d known each other all our lives. He is a delight as Franz: buoyant jumps, beautifully soft arms, bucketloads of charm. He’s matched by Michael Coleman’s Coppélius, who hugs himself with delight at his own creations, heartfelt in both naughtiness and wonder. Around them, the company performance is warm and bright.

Until 27 July, then touring. Box office 020 7845 9300.