Dance review: Scottish Ballet - Highland Fling, Glasgow

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DRUG taking, urinating and bare bottoms may not be unheard of in Glasgow on a Saturday night, but you don’t usually find them on stage at the Theatre Royal. Certainly not in a Scottish Ballet production, anyway.

Scottish Ballet: Highland Fling

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

* * * *

Highland Fling is far from business as usual at our national ballet company, but then that’s kind of the point. If you’re going to appeal to a wide audience, you’ve got to offer a broad repertoire, and that’s exactly what Scottish Ballet is doing.

Set in Glasgow, and draped in wall-to-wall tartan, Highland Fling is a modern-day re-working of 19th century romantic ballet La Sylphide. The basic principles are still there – a groom falls in love with an otherworldly sylph, rather than being satisfied with his new bride, and it all ends in tragedy.

Other than that, choreographer Matthew Bourne has made it his own. The settings are transformed from a Scottish farmhouse and foggy woodland to a Glasgow nightclub and council dump, while the characters are now rough-edged young folk who wouldn’t look amiss among the cast of Trainspotting.

Bourne also makes an interesting statement at the end, about the kind of men who’ll stop at nothing to keep their woman down. Witty, off-beat and at times close to the bone, this isn’t a dish Scottish Ballet could serve up too often, but it’s a fun way to encourage new audiences into the fold.

It also proves that not only do these dancers have great technique, they can carry a character with confidence and credibility.