Dance: Acting on a hunchback
Saturday 07 March 1998
We've had A Christmas Carol, we've had Dracula and now we've got The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A cynic might imagine that the decision to present Hugo's story was not unrelated to the Walt Disney production of the same name. But, in fact, Quasimodo and Esmeralda were tripping the light fantastic during Hugo's lifetime in 1844 when Jules Perrot created the ballet Esmeralda for the romantic legend Fanny Elssler. Marius Petipa later had a crack at it at the Maryinsky in St Petersburg, where the role of the pretty gypsy was often danced by Matthilde Kshessinska, Nicholas II's mistress, who kept her own string of pet goats for use in the ballet - Imperial ballerinas were nothing if not thorough.
Northern Ballet have sacrificed the goat but otherwise the story adheres pretty closely to Hugo's original and runs to a mind-boggling 20 scenes between Esmeralda, her four admirers and the good citizens of Paris. Anyone who likes to know what they're looking at would be well advised to skim through the book before they go. Michael Pink has done his best to craft a distinctive dance idiom for each character, but you may find yourself losing the thread - particularly as the rivals Phoebus and Gringoire seem to share a hairdresser.
The ballet looks good thanks to the usual class act by Lez Brotherston, who has designed the sets and costumes. Buttresses line the sides of the stage and various gothic gantries cross the back of it. The clothes run the gamut from dirty old sack with a hole in it (Quasimodo) to picture- book middle ages (for Phoebus's ladyfriend Fleur). The period detail is deliberately impressionistic and, like Ralph Koltai's infamous designs for the RSC in the late 1970s and Jasper Conran's for Edward II, Brotherston has proved unable to resist the rough, anachronistic kiss of black leather. It's a strange Archdeacon who rapes a girl while wearing a maxi black leather trenchcoat but then Hugo's Frollo is a very strange archdeacon.
Congress Theatre, Eastbourne (01323 412000) 10-14 Mar
Life & Style blogs
Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures leaked: Reddit removes 'The Fappening' board dedicated to sharing naked pictures of celebrities
iPhone 'Wave': iOS 8 hoax claims you can charge your iPhone in the microwave - you can't
From Topshop to Burberry, London Fashion Week spring/summer 2015: Distraction could not disguise a distinct lack of focus
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
iOS 8 HealthKit catches a major bug, forcing Apple's fitness apps to lie down and take it easy
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
- 1 Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how Twitter reacted
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
- 5 Britain First picture: Photographer 'horrified' after first Afghan policewoman killed by Taliban used for 'ban the burka' campaign
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...
£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...