Reviewed by Gina Lilley
Last night (17 April 2018) we sat at Milton Keynes Theatre with no idea what we were about to see. How would David Nixon’s, choreography show us the underwater world of Marilla, a little Mermaid and her sisters, her best friend Dillion, a Seahorse, all ruled by Lyr, the Lord of the Sea.
The answer was with stunning lighting and costumes which completely brought a relatively blank stage to life, whilst the choreography ensured we realised from the moment the curtain raised that we were not on dry land.
Exaggerated slow extension of movements and the ability to flow from finger nail to toe nail, meant that these incredible dancers ebbed and flowed as the sea around the mermaids who bobbed and dived through the waves. There was the most extraordinary mix of beauty, skill and technique as the scene was set and the story was allowed to unfold.
The original story is a tale of absolute love, naivety, dreams and aspirations. You don’t get the “happily ever after” ending as you do with the Disney adaptation, but Andersen’s tales have a moral core. The mermaid learns that you do not always get what you want but selflessly sacrifices herself to preserve the happiness of the man she loves.
The beautiful fluidity shown by all the dancers when in the underwater world meant you could follow the story easily and so when Marilla ends up on dry land, the dancing changed and the differences between the two worlds was easily understood.
The music was haunting and lyrical with recognisable Scottish lilts and themes running through it which, thanks to the composer, Sally Beamish, linked it all to Scottish folklore and the Selkie Tales of Orkney.
Although not a ballet I would expect to see many children at, because it really bears no resemblance to the Disney story, there were children in the audience who appeared just as mesmerized by the story and the beautiful pictures it created.
The lead roles were danced by Abigail Prudames (Marilla) and Joseph Taylor (Prince Adair) and the endearing Seahorse Dillion was danced by Kevin Poeung. Dreda Blow as Dana was enchanting with her smile and love for Prince Adair. This said, every single dancer was of a really high standard, which although one might expect, makes a ballet like this, where the specificity of the creation means if one dancer doesn’t quite master the movements, it would really show.
It was a pleasure to watch, with magnificent staging, and I would highly recommend it to anybody interested in dance. You do not need to understand mime particularly well to really hear what this story is telling you.
I would certainly go again!
Tickets cost from £14.90 to £40.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Northern Ballet’s The Little Mermaid is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 17-21 April 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes or call the box office on 0844 8717652.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK9 3NZ