Thursday, 17 March 2011

Culture and all that

I meant to post about this earlier but, you know, stuff happened and I got distracted when I went online. Mostly spent my laptop time getting free advice from Croila about gardening, to be honest. That and playing stupid Ravenwood Fair on Facebook.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that last week I took my Mum to her first ever ballet. When I learned she had never been I promised her I would find something suitable and we'd make a night of it. I saw that Romeo and Juliet was on, with the wonderful Prokofiev score, so I got tickets for my Mum and myself and for L, a friend of mine I used to work with and with whom I used to go to the ballet quite a lot. Mum was delighted and immediately started fretting over the classic first-time ballet-goer question: What should I wear?

She was reassured to find that jeans and a jumper was fine and no ball gowns would be required.

The ballet itself was.......interesting. A sort of modern-ish take on Romeo and Juliet. Lots of big alien-style headdresses on the Capulet ladies and then a slightly Bucks Fizz moment during the ball scene when they all shed their frocks to reveal virtually painted-on leotards beneath.

Oh, and an odd sub-plot which had Tybalt and Lady Capulet plainly engaged in quite a steamy affair. (There were a couple of holds during their dances that had you asking "Does he realise where his hand is?????") Tybalt ended up killing Mercutio because Mercutio and his mate dressed up as Tybalt and Lady C and did a (very funny) mickey-taking dance in the square. Now, that wasn't in the original play, was it? Or did I miss that in 3rd year English class?

We thoroughly enjoyed it anyway, including the half-time ice creams. The lady sitting next to us had brought her little girl along - she was about 4 years old and clearly a ballet fan, dressed in a sparkly ballerina dress and ballet shoes. My friend L engaged the wee one in conversation during intermission and learned that yes, the ballerina dress was pretty, but the undies that were part of the ensemble were a bit tight and tended to get stuck in one's .......erm......... undercarriage. So that was interesting.

I'm not sure that Romeo & Juliet was a great choice for a 4 year old, as in the final scene, as Juliet went mad with grief over Romeo's body and prepared to stab herself, a tremulous little voice was plainly heard over the silent auditorium: "Mummy, what's she going to do with that knife???" She can't have been too upset by it though, as we saw her performing her own interpretation of the show to the queue for the ladies loos as we left.

A good night was had by all (I frankly consider any night where I am out of the house after dark a success as long as it does not involve Sainsbury's) and we plan to repeat the experience soon. Looking out for tickets for a nice, classical, floaty ballet next. Swan Lake or Giselle maybe.


  1. I was a romantic by age 8, so perhaps it's starting sooner with that 4 year old.
    Loved the ballet, but think it's just crazy to harm yourself to be "The Prima Ballerina"! I have known people who were batty like that. (Not me, really)

  2. Well, my mum and I are going to "Alice" at the Festival Theatre in April. See you there??

  3. I felt like I was there too! What a great account of your night of culture.

  4. Sounds lovely. I took a four-year-old Leah to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's 'The Nutcracker" (Set in early 1900s Canada with a hockey game on a snowy pond, and a bear that wanders into the house and steals desserts). She had been captivated by a children's television show called "The Toy Castle" which featured toys that come to life when the children sleep, and dance classical ballet. I thought she'd be enchanted with live ballet. Not so much. Perhaps it was because it was a night performance and not a matinée, but she grew tired and restive. Her words to me as we made our way back to the car: "Well that was exciting *and* boring."

    I would love to see "Alice" though. Maybe now that she's 11, it might be better appreciated.

  5. I went to see Swan Lake a few years ago at the Playhouse, first time I'd ever been to a ballet. I was in the stalls, not a million miles away from the stage, and I was utterly gobsmacked at the utter racket they all made jumping up and down on those wooden floorboards! They LOOK so floating and light, but by god the floorboards took an absolute battering - you could hear it really loudly over the noise (er, I mean music) of the orchestra.