I went to see a performance of this while I was in Edinburgh over the holidays. It worked very well as a family Christmas ballet and the audience, many of whom appeared to me to be annual ballet goers, were thoroughly appreciative of the evening. There was a page long plot synopsis both on the free cast sheet and in the programme, and so the audience were very clearly directed as to who was who and what was happening on the stage, particularly the change of the Summer Princess to Lexi, the pickpocket (aka Dora the Explorer). In the theatre, the plot fizzed along and there was lots of action and dancing rather than the rather stop-start nature of some more classical Christmas ballets with their divertissements. I did not feel that the company was on top form with regard to their technique in the performance that I saw as I have seen them dance much better but it is difficult time of year with many performances in a short space of time.
The programme also explained that the decision to amend the plot slightly from a more traditional version led to their being three strong female principal characters each in charge of her own destiny which felt very appropriate for current times and a marked change from a number of other recently made ballets.
There were a couple of issues for me with the storyline that could have been made clearer, and indeed maybe after this run as it is a new ballet this year.
- in the marketplace scene in the first act, why did the Snow Queen first appear when freezing time in a long white dress and then the second time, and thereafter, was in the tutu costume from the opening scene?
- in the last scene, why did the Summer Princess and the Snow Queen independently throw away the knife and ice-shard that they had been brandishing, and did they fall or were they pushed through the enchanted mirror at the end, and indeed what happened to them after they fell?
The sets worked very well in the theatre. The darkness that has been referred to was not in evidence in real life but I can see that the industrial setting (think Glasgow Gorbals) for the market place and the forest in which the fortune-teller lives with the bandits may not have translated well to film, whereas the forest and the ice palace were much brighter. The design was by Lez Brotherston ably helped by Paul Pyant as the lighting designer.
On costumes although Lexi/Dora could have done with losing her hat as it just obscured her face whle dancing, particularly for those higher than the stalls level, the costumes of the everyday folk seemed to me to be in keeping with where and how it was set. The red jacket over the dress for Gerda did not bother me but I did feel she might have been a bit chilly in her floaty dress and jacket when everyone else was much more bundled up for the cold weather.
The stage felt full rather than over-crowded but the stage at the Festival Theatre is not enormous, certainly nothing like the Coliseum or the Opera House.
I was not overwhelmed by all the choreography but as family ballet I regard it as a success for Scottish Ballet.