Forget what you know about the traditional Brothers Grimm fairy tale; Christopher Hampson has taken this classic tale and injected it with magic and modern charm, his choreography capturing and telling the story of each individual character with perfection, while making excellent use of the original score by Engelbert Humperdinck—that’s the 19th century German composer, of course, not the 1960s balladeer! Some of the visuals were so mesmerising in the first half of the performance that the second half sometimes lacked this same magical quality.
The effort and work that Hampson and his Scottish Ballet cast have put into interpreting each character and their traits makes this performance truly spectacular.
Slightly different to the original story, Hansel and Gretel (Constant Vigier and Kayla-Maree Tarantolo) decide to run away from their parents on an adventure. The portrayal of Hansel and Gretel as young children is fantastically and cleverly done, all of Vigier and Tarantolo’s movements being childlike and playful. Gretel soon decides to leave a crumb trail but this is eaten by pursuing Ravens (Jamiel Laurence, Rimbaund Patron, Eado Turgeman and Evan Loudon) whose performance is one of the highlights of the show—their movements create alarm and fear, their fluid motions mimicking these eerie birds.
The first half ends with the child-hungry Witch and the Sandman sending Hansel and Gretel to sleep, where they dream about their parents (Araminta Wraith and Christopher Harrison) coming to rescue them. Performing a spell-binding duet during the dream sequence, Wraith and Harrison have true artistic chemistry, though the Sandman lacked the same character development and effort seen in other characters. However, the dream sequence itself whisked the audience away into a crazy, wonderful Alice-in-Wonderland-like world—a perfect end to the first half.
After the interval, Hansel & Gretel continues with an excellently executed dance from the Snow Drop fairies; yet, whilst visually stunning, this brought little to the overall arching storyline of the ballet. Hansel and Gretel then awake from their slumber and soon stumble upon the colourful and achingly-sweet gingerbread house belonging to the witch, who fattens up children before cooking them. There is real skill and craftsmanship in the way Hampson has made every single action of the Witch feel charged with a sinister energy, and Hendrick pulls this off masterfully.
The effort and work that Hampson and his Scottish Ballet cast have put into interpreting each character and their traits makes this performance truly spectacular. Hansel & Gretel will have you completely transfixed from start to finish, crackling with vibrancy, dynamic movement and bewitching performances.