The Secret Theatre

Scottish Ballet online

Mary Brennan

Five Stars

A family-friendly seasonal ballet has characterised Scottish Ballet’s winter programming for decades. This December, it would have been the late Peter Darrell’s Nutcracker, a fantastical midnight adventure, seen through the eyes of a child, Clara. Now, courtesy of cinematic panache, it’s through the eyes of a little boy (Leo Tetteh) that we discover a magical realm of dance-y delights in the limbo of a deserted theatre.

When Leo (and his ever-present football) accidentally ‘gate-crash’ the venue’s backstage area, he awakens dormant echoes of past productions. Hampers spring open, props and costumes come into play and, in a thrillingly seamless cavalcade, various scenes from Darrell’s Nutcracker and Christopher Hampson’s Snow Queen meld into an hour-long feature film that captures the zest and charm of live performances. A tremendous creative team has gone many extra miles to make this Scottish Ballet ‘first’ come to fruition on-screen. It’s an outstanding achievement. As for the dancers - there’s not a hint of bodies-in-lockdown as they vividly shape-shift across different roles.

First up, there’s a merry madcap circus then, in the swoosh of a roving camera,we visit a Roma camp full of mettlesome, swaggering dancers. The scary Snow Queen (Constance Devernay) is, however, nearby and promptly summons up a wintry landscape where Snowflakes swirl exquisitely on pointe. Scene after scene, Leo’s rapt attention connects us with the ongoing action, until he seems absorbed right into it... But then Sophie Martin’s beguiling Sugar Plum Fairy and her dashing Prince (Jerome Anthony Barnes) do weave a very special magic!

Enchanting, spellbinding, uplifting - it’s a wonderful witness to the vision and talents within Scottish Ballet, all waiting in the wings for 2021.

The Secret Theatre can be viewed at from 21-24 December - enjoy!