Reviewed by Sandra McGhee
I had the pleasure of watching the Northern Ballet production of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Ballet at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury last night (9 June 2017) with my 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. This was my first visit to this theatre. We were firstly impressed with the building and warm welcome from the staff upon arrival. Upon finding our seats in the stalls the theatre very quickly filled up and there didn’t appear to be many empty seats. The audience ranged from a variety of ages.
I was looking forward to this but also with a little apprehension not knowing what to expect after seeing the film which was very moving. The storyline is quite controversial being set during the Holocaust in Berlin, Germany. If you’ve seen the film or read the novel you will know the story. The story was beautifully portrayed by Northern Ballet (a registered charity). The ballet consisted of 14 scenes over 2 acts. Each and every character danced beautifully. We just couldn’t believe after the first act it was time for the interval which is an indication of how much we enjoyed watching, we were glued to every move. Everything from the choreography, music, set, costume, lighting was just spot on 100% brilliant! The story is heart-breaking with a devastating end but so superbly shown through dance. The sets were so convincing, and very cleverly thought out, from the barbed wire fencing to the dinner scene with impressive lit chandelier. I asked my children what did they like the best, they said everything especially the tyre swing and said it was so moving and the music was so spot on and appropriate. It was lovely for them to relive a bit of history and see from a different prospective through wonderful ballet. You could hear a pin drop in the audience the whole evening.
Bruno (played by Kevin Poeung) is just a young naïve innocent boy who got bored being stuck at home and goes out exploring to meet and form a friendship with Shmuel, who he meets divided by a barbed wire fence. Bruno is none the wiser on why there is the divide and why Shmuel (played by Luke Francis) lives there, he is just happy to meet a friend and spend time with him forming a friendship. Bruno enjoys playing with him and risks stealing food for him as he cares about his welfare. Bruno has no clue to why Schmuel is wearing striped pyjamas. Bruno is the son an SS Commandant and Bruno is blind to the war as so young and unaware why his family were moved to the countryside to a house near Auschwitz which his father controls. Each scene is illustrated through the dance illustrating the story which unfortunately after Bruno disobeys his parents and continues exploring off into the woods has a sad ending but clear moving message.
A beautiful, sensitive ballet and so creative with very moving scenes. Amazing! Fantastic dancing and beautiful to watch.
For other shows at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury.
Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 1UG | 0844 871 7607