There is something magical about seeing a very traditional production of one of the classic white ballets and this week at Theatre Royal Brighton there are three of the best, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. I chose the latter. Swan Lake I have seen many times, I find The Nutcracker strangely disjointed, so many great tunes, but so many short sections interspersed with  applause and mannered bowing to the audience. Sleeping Beauty is less fragmented, but at the same time is rather short on story, but Tchaikovsky’s music is glorious, even when being performed by a small touring orchestra, and there were moments when out of nowhere came delightful and virtuosic violin moments.

The production is very pretty, marvellous and lavish costuming, pretty animated projected settings and very effective lighting. And what is not to enjoy than those moments when the stage is filled with teams of fairies on point or courtiers in stately routines. There’s humour too, moments of whimsy and silliness, pussy cats, a wolf, rustics and royals.

And in there excellence, some very beautiful dancing from a truly international cast. All this said the whole felt a little slow and lacking drive, not all the time but at points I wished for some more oomph from the orchestra and more energy on the stage.

All of this however pales into insignificance when you weigh against it the fact that the Raymond Gubbay Company are taking classical ballet on tour and reaching parts of the country that the major, and in part state funded companies, simply do not reach. Whilst the Government claims to be rebalancing the arts to cover the UK, Raymond Gubbay’s Company actually do just that. Classics presented to a wider audience at often more affordable prices. It works, last night a busy house was populated by people of all ages, from tiny kids to… well to people of my age and way beyond, and long may it be so!

Andrew Kay


Theatre Royal Brighton

Rating: ★★★½☆

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