Reviewed by Rosalie Carter
There’s something about going to the ballet that just makes me want to drink champagne or order a glass of wine from the middle of the list, rather than the house white. The beautiful interior of Richmond Theatre really adds to the sense of occasion and my companion and I were swept up in the vintage glamour of it all so decided that a cheeky glass of Beaujolais was in order. This certainly set us up for a lovely evening!
As we sat in our seats, we sunk into the red velvet plushness and readied ourselves for an elegant evening. Richmond Theatre lends itself to up-market shows such as the Moscow City Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty; the balustrades have an impressive sense of grandeur and it perfectly matches the castle backdrop of the show. The backdrop itself is a prettily painted castle and garden which harks back to a Victorian style set, with various forest gauzes flown in when Beauty is put under the spell. Although not particularly luxurious it does the trick in setting the scene for the action and allows the dancers to completely fill the space. The costumes are traditional and make the dancers look like Turkish Delight covered in glitter and enables the dancers to exhibit their skilful elegance.
There is something magical about hearing the swell of the violins as they tune up and fills the theatre with electricity and excitement, but this is the only clear signifier throughout the show . As a ballet novice I noticed there were some very awkward moments where the audience were unsure whether to clap after each dancers movements and I found myself clapping at random moments, which earned me more than one evil glance. If you are also a ballet novice then I would recommend waiting for everyone else to start clapping before you break out in meaningful slow clap.
Victor Smirnov-Golovanov’s choreography lacks wit and at times can seem a little stilted, but there are genuinely beautiful moments between Talgat Kozhabaev’s Prince Florimund and Alevtina Lapshina. The pair are fluid in their movements and have an inherent grace that invokes a sense of timeless romance. As the Fairy of Goodness Darya Klimova looks like the ballet dancer in a jewellery box I had when I was a little girl. She is beautifully elegant with a great deal of control but there are moments where you can see the strain. The evil witch Carabosse is pantominically played by Kiril Kasatkin who shakes his magic stick with villainy aplomb; if I’m brutally honest he looks like my grandmother down Romford Market haggling for a bargain on net curtains.
The plot is well known and magical, you’ll probably recognise it from the famous Disney film, but unfortunately, the second act lacks drive and intrigue. Once Sleeping Beauty is awake it is long procession of elegant fairies paying tribute to the King and Queen which becomes ever so slightly monotonous. Although it is a magical show, if you’ve never seen ballet before I would probably recommend giving the Moscow City Ballet a miss as its incredibly traditional style might fail to engage a younger audience. However if you’re looking for a show to take your Grandmother to for her birthday then this show will be a pure treat and would beat bath salts any day.