Dance review: Scottish Ballet’s Hansel & Gretel, Glasgow

Until now, no ballet company has attempted to stage a full-length version of Hansel & Gretel – and it’s easy to see why.

Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel

Scottish Ballet’s Hansel & Gretel - Theatre Royal, Glasgow

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Unlike your average narrative ballet, the story presents few opportunities for large ensemble numbers. Which inevitably leads to prolonged periods spent just with our eponymous hero and heroine. Cute, yes, but also rather low-key for a big Christmas ballet.

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It’s not until the end of the first half that things take a turn for the magical. The dark forest, populated by even darker birds, finally gets an injection of colour when chefs and waiting staff leap and twirl onto the stage, bearing the all-you-can-eat buffet of your dreams.

Lollipop-shaped lights and the infamous edible house get Act Two off to a good start, as does the arrival of the tutu-clad Dew Drop Fairy and her sparkly pals (despite their rather constricted performance space). But it is Eve Mutso’s unravelling, from pristine dream girl to dishevelled nightmare, that steals the show.

Having enticed Hansel and Gretel into her home, with the promise of yet more sugar-based treats, the witch suddenly reveals her true colours – and Mutso’s status as one of the best character dancers of her generation is confirmed.

There is some smart storytelling here, and Hansel and Gretel’s brother/sister relationship is suitably fleshed out. Given what we’ve seen from choreographer Christopher Hampson in the past, however, it feels as though he held back on this one – both on the movement and the magic.