Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

five stars

ROSES colour every aspect of Christopher Hampson’s heartfelt Cinderella, first performed by Scottish Ballet in 2015. There are the dusty pinks of ballroom costumes, the whisper-soft hues worn by the Fairy Godmother and her attendants – even the moon that overlooks the art nouveau traceries of designer Tracy Grant Lord’s flowering tree is composed of rose petals.

It looks exquisite but the rose, here, is also emblematic of abiding love: Cinderella’s refuge – the rose garden – echoes her late mother and holds the cherishing magic that transforms her future.

Is the Fairy Godmother (Araminta Wraith) really an elegantly ethereal manifestation of that mother’s spirit? Do the insects – led by the merrily springy Grasshopper (Jamiel Laurence) – help to rescue Cinderella because her cruel treatment at home is an offence against nature?

Hampson’s treatment of the evergreen story has similarly reflective depths woven into choreography that balances wistful pathos with rambunctious comedy and brings them together with impressive narrative clarity.

We immediately feel for Cinders (Sophie Martin) as she dreams of escaping from a drab, dark kitchen.That royal ball might be a fleeting respite, but the memories will brighten the loneliness that Martin expresses with such nuanced poignancy.

However no-one in this household seems happy, and this surfaces during preparations for the ball where the Stepsisters’ bad behaviour cleverly morphs into a comedic tour de force.

While Tall (Grace Horler) has a distinctly vindictive streak, the wonderfully lackadaisical Short (Kayla-Maree Tarantola) is a softer soul who – after they have made hilariously gawky fools of themselves at the ball – might have her own happy ending.

Meanwhile, the pas-de-deux that bring Cinders and her Prince (an attractively athletic Barnaby Rook-Bishop) together become a journey of increasing trust, with the soaring high lifts and secure mid-air catches a reassuring sign of the steadfast love to come. Prokofiev’s music, played live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, is – like the dancing throughout – a Christmas treat to treasure.