I was deeply impressed by the Ballet Lorent’s retelling in dance of Snow White. A seriously impressive show in the idiom of contemporary dance and aimed at children, this Snow White will satisfy the grownups as well as the youngsters. This staging of the tale takes us back to the more frightening Grimm Brothers original, where it is not a wicked stepmother but the actual mother herself, who becomes jealous of the beautiful princess and sends her out with the Huntsman to be killed so that she can eat her heart and be the greatest beauty in the palace.
The tale has been retold or rewritten by Carol Ann Duffy and the narration is read perfectly by Lindsay Duncan. Visually stunning and with an evocative original score by Murray Gold, this production is a treat for children who will be entranced by the telling of this tale through music, word and also the stunning choreography of Liv Lorent. The clarity of the story telling is exemplary, the theatrical impact of the show very strong. Part of a fairy tale trilogy being built by this company that began with a successful staging of the Rapunzel story last year, as always with this Ballet Lorent the ensemble work of the cast is one of the great strengths and assets of the show.
Caroline Reece as the Queen, Natalie Trewinnard as Snow White, Gavin Coward who doubles as the Huntsman and also as the Head Miner (okay, one of the dwarves really), and Gwen Berwick as the spirit in the Mirror are all memorable not only because of their dancing but also because of their acting. Reece takes us on the journey of a woman who grows jealous of her own child to become murderous and then learns to be horrified at what she has set in motion. Gwen Berwick is especially memorable in her role. The set by Phil Eddols starts as a huge vanity table (with that mirror) that doubles also as the castle or home of the main characters; and then turns around to become the forest retreat. Libby Everall’s costumes and Malcolm Rippeth’s lighting design complement each other and the sets perfectly. The children of the ensemble are an added appealing touch to a show that is truly worth seeing for its own sake but also as a wonderful, memorable way to introduce youngsters to contemporary dance theatre. It is also a way to introduce an audience to this company. On the evidence of this vivid, exciting and excellent production I would be willing to return to sample the work of Liv Lorent and her company on many occasions. Congratulations are due to the team at the Oxford Playhouse for bringing this perfect Easter Holiday treat.