Athletic telling of classic tale

Sleeping Beauty on Ice

New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

****

You've got your pick of Sleeping Beauties in Birmingham this week and the Imperial All Stars' version certainly brings lots of skating drama to the stage.

In fact the Alex stage is currently carrying 14 tonnes of ice, turning it into a ready-made rink.

And the ice is central to the show. While the story of Sleeping Beauty is the narrative behind this production in many ways the story becomes less important than the technical skill of the skaters as they jump from one move to the next.

It's the age old story with all the traditional characters - the evil fairy Carabosse, the good Lilac Fairy, the princess who pricks her finger and sleeps for 100 years and the handsome prince who wakes her with a kiss. And it is easy to follow as the tale moves along at a reasonable pace set to music from Tchaikovsky's ballet music for Sleeping Beauty.

But there are also a good many additional ingredients which are specific to this show – with high flying aerial artists, daredevil lifts and spins and some nerve-racking acrobatic jumps.

The Imperial Ice Stars are capable not only of showing their dexterity as skaters but also in creating some vivid characterisation – from the humorous Catalabutte and his assistant to the spiteful Carabosse who dominates the stage with her speed and athleticism.

Directed, choreographed and co-produced by Tony Mercer, the production also includes lots of special effects – not least in the scenes in which Carabosse is defeated by the Lilac Fairy and is forced to relinquish her powers.

Packed full of international medal winners, the company create a form of theatre on ice which successfully blends their talents with the need to entertain and to tell a story. To 12-10-13.

Diane Parkes 

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