Review: Beauty and the Beast

Simon Hale enjoys the latest production from Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Many of us know the story through the Disney animation but David Bintley’s ballet version of Beauty and the Beast brings far more of its psychology to life.

Indeed, Birmingham Royal Ballet’ s production is an emotional, moral and magical rollercoaster, which kept this reviewer on a full house opening night gripped from beginning to end.

On board are a prince turned into a beast for abusing nature, sisters obsessed with their own vanity and fiery rivalry, and a suitor driven by greed and pomposity. There’s also an honourable merchant about to loss everything through misfortune, and his daughter so selfless and ready to find good in everyone that all she craves is a single rose.

Drawn together from the plucking of a flower, Delia Mathews as Belle expresses in a subtle heartfelt way her initial fears and wariness of the Beast until she gradually uncovers the love within his heart.

You can also sense her dilemma as she is torn between leaving behind her familiar yet beastly world and venturing to a strange new existence in a strange castle in the beautiful wildness of the forest.

Tyrone Singleton brings a mix of measured power and aggression to the Beast, uncomfortable as it must be dancing behind a mask. You long for the happy moment when you know he will remove it.

Meanwhile BRB veteran Michael O’Hare gives an ever-reliable performance in the highly challenging actor/dancing role of the Merchant, as do Laura Purkiss and Samara Downes as Belle’s sisters. James Barton brings great comic relief as the porky Monsieur Cochon, and Yaoqian Shang delivers an endearing performance as the wild girl and former vixen who comforts the Beast as he lies dying from heartache as he waits for Belle to fulfil a promise to return from seeing her father.

The production races along with a pulsating romantic score by Glenn Buhr, played expertly by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the baton of Paul Murphy.

The thrilling set changes created by Philip Prowse that take you deeper into the Beast’s castle, where candelabras light and wine flagons pour of their own volition, ensure the action never stops.

There’s ample time to board this rollercoaster, one of the most popular of ballets. Don’t miss it. Beauty and the Beast is in performance at Birmingham Hippodrome until March 2nd. Tickets