Hansel and Gretel 2016, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Scottish Ballet
Artistic Director/Choreographer: Christopher Hampson. Set and Costume Design: Gary Harris. Lighting Designer: George Thomson. Principal Conductor: Richard Honner
Constance Devernay, Bethany Kingsley-Garner, Sophie Martin, Christopher Harrison, Marge Hendrick, Araminta Wraith, Jamiel Laurence, Andrew Peasgood, Luke Schaufuss, Nicholas Shoesmith, Victor Zarallo, Laura Joffre, Sophie Laplane, Claire Souet, Madeline Squire, Thomas Edwards, Evan Loudon, Rimbaud Patron, Constant Vigier, Aisling Brangan, Grace Horler, Roseanna Leney, Daniela Oddi, Clarissa Pace, Melissa Parsons, Grace Paulley, Kayla-Maree Tarantolo, Mia Thompson, Javier Andreu, Matthew Broadbent, Henry Dowden, Pascal Johnson, Barnaby Rook Bishop, Simon Schilgen, Jamie Reid, Eado Turgeman
Running time

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – the Scottish Ballet is in town.

Hansel and Gretel is the perfect antidote for the bustling, hectic run up to Christmas; it is wonderfully immersive, bright, sweet, colourful, confectionary fun that will delight both children and adults with its mischievous beauty.

Almost all of us know the story of Hansel and Gretel - the tale of two children lost in the woods who find a house made of gingerbread and candies. Starving, they are tempted inside only to become prey to the evil witch who lives there, who is intent on cooking and eating them. There are many interpretations of how the children become lost in the first place, the original Grimm’s tale telling that they were abandoned by their stepmother because there is not enough food to go around. Scottish Ballet’s delightful production goes further and brings the Grimm’s Brothers tale into the twentieth century.

Christopher Hampson’s vision shows the family home to include a 1960s' fridge and television and has the schoolchildren in uniform that would not look out of place today, and the sweets with which the children are tempted are reminiscent of Willy Wonka with big swirling lollypops and candy sticks. Despite this link with the modernity, none of the magic or enchantment of the classical fairy tale are lost. The spectacle transcends the bonds of time and reality with lavish sets and lots of colour, which is partly what makes it such an excellent and exciting show to run in the middle of a dark winter.

Scottish Ballet is utterly enchanting. The dancers are all exceptional and work seamlessly as a company to create a wonderful home grown spectacle, which continues on tour in early 2017. Christopher Hampson’s choreography creates beautiful episodes within the story, allowing each dancer to shine as a performer, while all working towards telling the tale. The Raven’s dance and the addition of the Ragdolls, who dance in the witch’s house, are particularly worth a mention.

The opulent sets and costumes, masterfully designed by Gary Harris, bring the whole show to glorious life; the backdrops are beautiful and very clever with how they transform the space, and it is almost worth going just for those. There is an excellent mixture in the wardrobe of fairytale and classical ballet costume which will sate both desires for tradition and phenomenon and every childhood dream.

The company also provide family insight sessions, suitable for age 6+. It is worth reading the synopsis in the front of the programme to be on the same page as the dancers, as appearances such as the Sandman and the Dew Drop Fairy may be a little confusing!

Whether their audience is adult or child, Scottish Ballet delights with Hansel and Gretel. Humorous and exciting, bright and enchanting this is a must see for the Christmas season and will get you into the feeling of cold nights and warm lights. It is the perfect winter treat to sugar coat the season.

13-31 December, 7.30pm. Matinees 2pm select dates. £43.50-£17.50
Family Insight 17th, 29th, 30th. £5.50/£3.50