Ballet Cymru’s Little Red Riding Hood

On Saturday I decided to my girl out for the day, she wanted to try out acrylic paints and we thought the Riverfront cafe would be an ideal spot to do a little painting. On our way in we spotted the signs for Ballet Cymru’s performance happening that evening, so we decided to extend our Mummy and Daughter day out to the evening and bought two of the very last tickets left… We are both big Roald Dahl fans and it only seemed fair.

We sat comfortably with snacks in hand and a little unsure of what to expect, we had been to see Cinderella from the company last year but theatre can be unpredictable, which makes it more interesting, in my opinion.

The show began with the narrator Mark Griffiths, who was the voice of the whole performance, introducing us to the woods, and the creatures that hid there, with a focus on the wolves of course. An introduction to the story and a description of the wolf’s character setting the scene.

I would like to point out the way in which the narration of the performance was directed and performed was fantastic, it had to be really, but I appreciated just how respectfully done this part was. Roald Dahl’s writing is legendary and deserved that level of consideration, especially in the 100th year since his birth. The narrator happened to fit into each scene easily as well, gliding around and literally lifting some of the characters to various points of the story too.

As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma’s door.

As the first story unravelled the humour rolled with it, not just from the words of the rhymes but the way in which the dance adapted to each little joke and quirky sentence. There were also roles and shoves and some interesting pantomime style slap stick segments, that had the whole audience giggling, including my girl and the older ladies beside us. This is a true testament to Ballet Cymru because it clearly had people of all ages entertained! Also as you might recall some of the most amazing performances I have seen to date have been the pantomimes at the Riverfront Theatre, so to be able to compare to that is a great compliment I think. And watch out for that cow!

After the break the second story (the Three Little Pigs) continued in the same style, which was fine by me, it was a little more direct this time, and I noticed the clever use of lighting by John Bishop more in this half, as even though the scenery was minimal you could clearly tell what was going on. Paul Patterson’s music was also very important in both stories and added something special in the way it was put together, adding drama and suspense at exactly the right times.

Pig cried, “You brute! I might have known!”
Then, picking up the telephone,
He dialed as quickly as he could

Photo Credit John Bishop
Photo Credit John Bishop

I can’t stand spoilers myself but if you’ve read Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes you will know how the story ends, you won’t know how Ballet Cymru interpret this however, but trust me, you won’t be disappointed; ‘Miss Hood’ played by Lydia Arnoux is feisty and sprightly, not meek and mild as in the traditional stories, which I like, the additional woodland sprites really add depth and of course plenty of movement, and the choreography from Darius James and Amy Doughty is simply wonderful. The wolves Andrea Battaggia and Allegra Vianello deserve a special mention as well for their outstanding performances, they fit into their characters so well I thought.

Of course this was a ballet performance, so even though the stories were strong, the narration very well done, and the acting entertaining I have to comment on the dance as well- Even though I don’t have any personal experience of dancing myself, my daughters both practice ballet, so I have seen the sheer effort involved in learning this art, and I can say that Little Red Riding Hood on Saturday night was stunning, absolutely stunning, I tried to watch the footwork and make sense of what I was seeing at some points but I couldn’t, the story and the feet moved at such a pace that in the end I decided to sit back and enjoy the story. However the dancers made the performance seem effortless, and the lifts, turns and jumps were all spot on. I will never tire of watching talented dancers sharing their talent in this way. I really did enjoy the show and so did my girl.

Photo Credit John Bishop
Photo Credit John Bishop

When a show finishes and the crowd clearly aren’t ready for it to be over I think you have a success on your hands, and that is certainly how I felt about Ballet Cymru’s Little Red Riding Hood, I could have watched it all over again.

As always the staff and facilities at the Riverfront were excellent, and my only regret of the night was that I decided not to take my youngest along with us, she would have absolutely loved this show, and I made an error of judgement there as this show is certainly suitable for smaller children in my opinion.

Not that I have a star rating etc here, but maybe I should? Anyway, Ballet Cymru’s Little Red Riding Hood gets a 10/10 five star congratulations from me.

Congratulations to Darius and Amy plus the whole cast and crew, you should be proud! Best of luck for the rest of the tour.

Details of where you can find the upcoming performances can be found here.

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