Coppélia, London Coliseum, London
Monday 19 March 2012
Coppélia is a village comedy with a streak of fantasy, from quarrelling lovers to dancing mechanical dolls. Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production has a light touch and a sunny atmosphere, from the bouncy corps dances to Nao Sakuma’s heroine.
The story of this 19th-century classic comes from ETA Hoffman, adapted and sweetened with a score by Delibes. Coppélia herself is a doll, life-size and life-like enough to confuse the villagers when her creator Dr Coppélius sets her out on his balcony. Swanilda is indignant when the doll ignores her but jerkily blows a kiss to her boyfriend Franz. Sakuma is fresh and direct in the mime scenes, turning readily to the audience to show her outrage. She’s a gentle Swanilda, curious rather than mischievous, with delicate, airy dancing.
As Franz, Chi Cao dances and partners with clean, confident lines. He could add more flourish to Franz’s steps – it’s a swaggering character – but he’s always assured and lively. Michael O’Hare is a comic Coppélius, more eccentric than malicious. When he comes home to his workshop, he takes off his coat with elaborate care, shaking it out and folding it up – then throwing it into a corner.
In Peter Farmer’s designs, the workshop’s criss-cross beams suggest spooky recesses and indoor space, with mechanical figures framing mirrors and popping out of boxes when Swanilda and her friends set them off. Disguising herself as Coppélia, Sakuma whirls lightly through the doll dances.
The company performance is very appealing. The corps give a warm account of the Hungarian folk dances of the first act, stamping crisply in their knee-high boots. The mazurka and czárdás are led by Victoria Marr, given a flirty attitude in Peter Wright’s production. Swanilda and her friends are brisk in the “ear of corn” setpiece. The comic acting is brightly done: I love the friends sneaking into the workshop, a gaggle of girls holding hands, dragging the most timid one after them.
After the comedy, the last act is a display of dancing, as the townsfolk celebrate their new bell. Sakuma and Cao are elegant in their classical showcase, but miss the extra grandeur of this act. Farmer’s designs heighten the disconnect with the rest of the ballet. A sudden rash of Marie-Antoinette shepherdess costumes makes it hard to believe that we’re still watching the middle-European villagers from earlier in the story. The festivities are well staged, with the corps de ballet lively in the dances for work and war.
Until 18 March. Box office 0871 911 0200
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Kylie Minogue quits The Voice UK
Review: Half of A Yellow Sun
Arts & Ents blogs
New Banksy art 'Mobile Lovers' removed with crowbar, hoarded in youth club
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Game of Thrones season 4 episode 2 breaks torrent record as fans watch online
Game of Thrones season 4 episode 2 sees fans jubilant over King Joffrey's 'Purple Wedding'
Paul Walker's brothers stand in for actor’s final scenes for Fast & Furious 7 movie
David Cameron: 'Jesus invented the Big Society – I'm just continuing God's work'
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
- 1 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 2 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 3 Man on a leash in Farringdon, London: Mystery of 'walkies' solved
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline bribed doctors to boost sales, says whistleblower