Don Quixote, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review
Going to the ballet should be a treat but The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s production of Don Quixote was a little lacklustre. To call the ballet ‘Don Quixote’ is somewhat misleading as, rather than centring on the foolishly romantic escapades of the eponymous hero, it focuses instead on the comical romance of Kitri and Basilio from the second part of Cervante’s novel.
In the first scene of Act One, Don Quixote is seen reading about the adventures of medieval knights when Sancho Panza rushes in, chased by some peasant women from whom he has been stealing. Quixote chases the women away and the two men decide to set off on adventures together like the medieval knights of old.
Don Quixote, played by Arseniy Bormotov, strode manfully about in sturdy over-the-knee boots that certainly looked the part but were not necessarily conducive to dancing ballet. This turned out to be irrelevant as, throughout the performance he was never actually required to dance. Sancho Panza was suitably clown-like but likewise was provided with little opportunity to display more than a few comical walks.
In the second and final scene of Act One, we are introduced to the main protagonists, Kitri, the Innkeeper Lorenzo’s daughter, and her lover, a poor local barber called Basilio. Lorenzo separates Kitri and Basilio, announcing he has planned for her to marry Camacho, who is rich. Camacho is a fool: all the villagers laugh at him and Kitri is horrified. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza happen to wander into Lorenzo’s Inn and they help Kitri and Basilio to escape. The scene ends with Lorenzo and Camcho chasing after them.
Act two sees Kitri, Basilio and their friends arriving at a tavern when Lorenzo and Camacho appear. Basilio pretends to kill himself for the love of his forbidden Kitri and Don Quixote forces Lorenzo to accede to Basilio’s dying wish and allow the two to marry. Once consent is granted, Basilio makes a miraculous recovery and the final scene is their wedding, with Quixote and Panza leaving at the end to find other helpless souls to save.
The rather flimsy storyline served as an adequate framework on which to hang the requisite ballet solos and duets. The two leads, played by Dimitri Sobolevsky and Ekaterina Bukgutova, were danced with energy and some style although lacked a certain poise and precision, with a few wobbles and a failure to keep right on the beat with some of the more intricate allegro movements.
The supporting roles were well executed and the overall experience was pleasant. However, the evening lacked the wonder, awe and excitement associated with watching ballet at its best.
The Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia perform Sleeping Beauty today (7.30pm) and Swan Lake tomorrow (2.30pm, 7.30pm)