Rumpelstiltskin / BCMG, Bates Mill, Huddersfield

4.00

A magical spin on a Grimm tale

Much more than just music describing a story, and a far cry from Disney's Fantasia, David Sawer's enthralling new music-mime piece, Rumpelstiltskin, is a cross between a short narrative ballet and a silent movie with a striking live soundtrack. In choosing to illustrate this particular Grimm Brothers' fable, in which a miller's idle boast that his daughter can spin straw into gold sets in motion a thread of catastrophic consequences, Sawer has himself struck gold.

In Rumpelstiltskin, presented as part of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the musical tapestry of evocative and often tongue-in-cheek sounds conjures vivid stage pictures even without the deft gestures of the six dancers. Fortunately, since there are no words threading the pieces of the tale together, these performers can act as well as they can move. Best of all is Lucy Burge's bizarre, Rasputin-like Rumpelstiltskin who, chuntering dementedly to herself, repeatedly saves the miller's daughter but is in the end cheated of her promised reward of the girl's first child. Bryony Perkins blossoms from exploited girl to feisty Queen, her initial desperation turning to sneering triumph as she defeats Rumpelstiltskin. The dancers' expressive body language, as they flip from scene to scene inside and around Stewart Laing's versatile wooden cube set, makes the need for any spoken narrative redundant.

Though Sawer conceived Rumpelstiltskin as a piece for the concert hall – with the costumed instrumentalists set alongside the dancer-actors, and often criss-crossing the performance space – it would be easier to focus on his colourful and well-crafted score without the distraction of seeing the players. Watch the conductor Martyn Brabbins weave magical sounds from the 13-strong Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and you risk missing some vital dramatic nuance in Richard Jones's minutely-detailed direction and picturesque characterisation. Sawer's score is sombrely dark in the dungeon scene, jubilant in its evocation of wedding bells and elegantly lyrical in its depiction of its 20th-century, Mid-European setting. There may be too many puzzles woven into its texture to take in at first hearing, but the music is immediate in impact, apparently meticulously prepared and perceptively performed.

Flute, oboe and clarinet tangle acerbically together, while violin, viola and cello give emotional depth. Bass clarinet, horn and trumpet contribute a mellow richness and bassoon, tuba and double bass add fearful grimaces. The harp glitters on the fringes of these distinctive groups.

The King's gold slippers and Rumpelstiltskin's coin, nugget and, finally, ingots of gold, gleam among the dowdy costumes of muted colours. It was impossible not to feel the pain and humiliation in Rumpelstiltskin's final reel, as Burge flailed, in tandem with an increasingly unhinged mental state. The ghastly denouement was entirely in-keeping with the Grimm Brothers' reputation for the gory and the grotesque.

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments