Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan Four stars

Last seen in Scotland in 2004, Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) is briefly back– if only in Edinburgh – with a classic Giselle that shows off company strengths at all levels, even as it streamlines aspects of the traditional narrative for distinctly dramatic impact.

Both Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel frequently danced Albrecht – the philandering nobleman who breaks Giselle’s heart – before they took to choreography instead. In the version they have co-produced for RNZB, they book-end the piece by introducing Albrecht in the years following Giselle’s tragic death – no longer the confident cavalier (Kohei Iwamoto) who deceived a naive peasant girl and drove her insane.

In Lucy Green, RNZB have a Giselle any prince or peasant would find adorable: there’s a blithe, fresh energy to her in Act One that is captivating, underpinned by an unwavering technique that really comes to the fore when, in Act Two, it is her spirit and her stamina that save Albrecht from the vengeful Wilis – forest-dwelling wraiths, unwedded in life and men-hating in death. Their leader, Myrtha, is implacable – surely she’ll relent, impressed (as are we) by Giselle’s bravura protection of Albrecht? Mayu Tanigaito’s Myrtha sways not a jot in her attitude, her pointe-work incisive and her demeanour icily controlled. The Wilis themselves are a superb ensemble, whisper soft as they emerge into the midnight glade where Hilarion (Jacob Chown) and Albrecht come to grieve at Giselle’s grave. What isn’t whisper soft, unfortunately, is the recording of Adam’s exquisite score. The recurring boom-y shrillness isn’t a problem in Act One, where lively peasant revelries frame Albrecht’s woo-ing of Giselle but in the supernatural encounters of Act Two, the insistent volume jars. Even so, this is a good-looking production from a company crammed with talent.