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Dance review: Highland Fling, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Four stars

more GLASGOW THAN GLENS: Highland Fling is both uproarious and wistful as it leaves no tartan kitsch unexplored in a cheeky 'rerr terr' of a ballet production.
more GLASGOW THAN GLENS: Highland Fling is both uproarious and wistful as it leaves no tartan kitsch unexplored in a cheeky 'rerr terr' of a ballet production.

HIYA pals and welcome to a rerr terr at the dancin' as Scottish Ballet goes pure dead gallus in Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling.

Hold on, though – wouldn't our national company be more at home in the original La Sylphide by Bournonville? And isn't Bourne's updated take on the classic romantic tragedy a wee bit cheeky in how it shows Scotland – well, a grotty Glasgow actually – as more "brought doon" than Brigadoon? If either of these notions irks you, then you probably won't be cheering on a sassy production that revels in all things MacKitsch – no in-yer-face tartan cliche is left unchecked in Lez Brotherston's tongue-in-cheek designs – even as it showcases the versatile potential of the dancers.

Bourne's choreography requires a mastery of characters, as well as steps, if the storytelling is to edge us towards the darker side of an initially uproarious scenario. James, an unemployed welder about to marry Effie, continually sinks his despair in hard drinking and drug-taking. Is the raggle-taggle Sylph who lures him away from the scrapheap of his life an actual wraith? Or a projection of his innermost yearnings?

Sophie Martin, white frock tattered like a mouldering shroud, is a feral Sylph who melts out of walls to ensnare the swaggering, restless James (Christopher Harrison). Yet Martin has the ache of unfulfilled love in her mercurial switches from playful to intense. And if this Highland Fling is a rampageous hoot to begin with, it ends on a touchingly wistful image that suggests holding on to what you've got can be a good idea.

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