Theatre review: Scottish Ballet - The Crucible

Helen Pickett's The Crucible is visually and aurally dynamic. Picture: John Devlin
Helen Pickett's The Crucible is visually and aurally dynamic. Picture: John Devlin
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THE dance world needs more Helen Picketts. Choreographers who can take the genre of narrative ballet and hurl it into the 21st century, as Californian-born Pickett does with Scottish Ballet’s new production of The Crucible.

Scottish Ballet: The Crucible with Ten Poems

Theatre Royal, Glasgow


It’s clear from the opening dialogue that this is very much a story ballet, backed up by the chairs, pulpit and 17th century costumes.

But from there, Pickett gives us quirky, angular movements; bodily manifestations of the characters’ fears, while moments of love and desire take on a more rounded, sensual quality.

The music jumps from the Vertigo soundtrack to Hindemith to beat-heavy electronica, which, coupled with Pickett’s interesting use of lighting, makes for a visually and aurally dynamic journey.

If only the piece was two hours long, rather than 40 minutes, it would be a triumph. But Arthur Miller’s tale of witchcraft and prejudice has too many families and alliances for Pickett to communicate in such a short time.

To connect emotionally, we need to invest, but it’s over before we have the chance.

Christopher Bruce has even less time with his wonderful Ten Poems, but far less text to convey. Without a jot of musical accompaniment, just the rich sound of Richard Burton’s voice reading the poetry of Dylan Thomas, the work is captivating from start to finish.

Merry teenagers enjoying summer, young lives stolen by war, a man bidding farewell to his father, Thomas infuses his words with the stuff of life – and Bruce does likewise with his accessible and engaging choreography.

Seen on 25.09.14

• Performances at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, today; then at Eden Court, Inverness, 30 September until 1 October; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 3 to 4 October and His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 7 to 8 October