balletLORENT’s Rumplestiltskin is “glittering and golden”

balletLORENT. Photo by Bill Cooper RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Rumpelstiltskin is a classic fairytale that every household has in their conscious, and balletLORENT has successfully adapted the childhood favourite into an acrobatic and exciting physical-theatre production.

The stage is restlessly alive, glittering and golden, and the show excels in its imaginative use of staging and props, which helps to keep the magic of a fairytale present on stage. The set acts as a sort of climbing frame for the dancers to hang, leap, handstand and spin off, which gives the stage the feeling of a toy kingdom; existing only in the imaginary.

Scattered straw, lanterns, threads of yarn and golden streamers are details bound to excite the eyes of the younger audience. Endless props are brought on to assist acrobatic tricks with hoops and on poles, or for tamer story-telling purposes. Altogether making for a visually stimulating production which keeps the eye busy and brings the story to life.

balletLORENT- Rumpelstiltskin. Photo by Bill Cooper
balletLORENT- Rumpelstiltskin. Photo by Bill Cooper

In the first half, we have the setting of a bucolic Kingdom, presided over by the King and Queen of the castle. Hessian sacks, straw and wooden furniture form the scenery, all shaped in silhouette like rolling-hills, filled with a cast of the very young to the elderly, who play country folk and lambs. The diverse age range of the entire cast gave the production a warming community feel, which lent itself nicely to the storyline.

Through fast-track storytelling, we are introduced to Rumpelstiltskin and his solitary, outcast life. The staging then shifts in the second half to a more intimate scene, drawing attention to the Shepherd’s Daughter and Rumpelstiltskin locked in a room, desperately spinning straw into gold.

Parents be ready to coo at the sight of children skipping excitedly around the stage. Especially when those children are dressed up as sheep and crawling on their hands and knees, or being picked up by their torso, with their black-sheep limbs dangling down quite convincingly like a little lamb. The elderly women too, knitting and chatting away, provide a very warming presence, completing the idyllic, rustic scene.

balletLORENT- Rumpelstiltskin. Photo by Bill Cooper
balletLORENT- Rumpelstiltskin. Photo by Bill Cooper

Both the young and old Shepherd’s Daughter arrested my eye from the start. The young girl has a stage-presence and ability way beyond her years, and the duet between her and the young Rumpelstiltskin is adorable, as they play and chase each other round a hay-bale in rhythmic synchronicity.

Natalie Trewinnard, as the adult Shepherd’s Daughter, displayed an incredible strength and agility. Tirelessly lifting her own body weight – balancing on her hands, a hoop or a precarious edge of the stage and all done with a child-like, innocent presence.

As was intended by Artistic Director Liv Lorent, the production provides a clear and structured adaptation of the story, retold through a combination of voice-over narration (Ben Crompton) and physical theatre, with the scenarios written by Poet Laureate, Carol Anne Duffy.

listen to our podcast interview with Liv Lorent or read our Q&A.

Reviewed on 21 April at The Lowry