FOR a country that can boast winter Olympics medals in curling and, er, not much else, it’s strange that we don’t have more of a cultural affinity with ice-bound pursuits. Mind you, rumour has it that the main appeal of curling is the excellent off-rink social scene.
The Playhouse * * *
The Russians, however, are somewhat more invested in making the most of the ice, none more so than Sleeping Beauty headliner and Dancing on Ice star Olga Sharutenko. Taking the lead as Princess Aurora, Sharutenko brings grace, poise and ethereal confidence to the role.
Her co-stars are equally sure footed, performing technically brilliant, well timed manoeuvres that will make the hearts of those who know their Salchows from their Biellmanns flutter just that little bit faster.
Those of us who are ignorant of such things and have also missed out on the weekend TV phenomenon will merely have to make do with appreciating the fire juggling, the flying, the aerial silk acrobatics and slapstick from impish palace servants.
Using Tchaikovsky’s classic score, the production owes much to the original ballet, albeit with a shorter run time of just over two hours including an intermission.
The action follows the traditional narrative of uninvited Christening guest gone wild and cursing the young Princess Aurora for the social faux pas of her parents. Fortunately, the Lilac Fairy is on hand to save the day and guide a handsome young prince in the right direction.
Opening with an unexpectedly bleak scene, the production shifts dramatically between the light, bright, jovial palace and the dank, dark forest.
As the two worlds collide, the story unfolds in a series of dramatic set pieces that pit the sides against each other in a flurry of dangerous duels and dazzling duets.
The pacing of the production trundles along, however. There are pauses between scenes, awkward disappearances of the King and Queen from the stage so they can get from their thrones onto the ice and a myriad of details that make the flow of the story slower than it should really be. Only the assured, gutsy encore displayed the energy that should have been on show throughout the night.
• Run ends Saturday.