Seasons in our World and Peter and the Wolf/Malvern Theatres

IT’S a shame that the running order of this double bill seems to be the wrong way round.

Seasons in our World showcases the work of three choreographers, each one displaying great sensitivity to the subject matter. I didn’t feel this was the case with Peter and the Wolf.

Laura Day, Lachlan Monaghan and Kit Holder willingly embrace the unreconstructed pastoral feel of this first Birmingham Royal Ballet offering, demonstrating a light touch on the tiller in recognition of the theme.

They display great sensitivity in their interpretation of Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian’s evocative score which is stunningly presented by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under Paul Murphy’s steady baton.

The association of spring and rebirth is effectively conveyed by the orchestra’s soaring cadences, while winter’s clammy fingers find great expression via the icy tones of the strings section.

A stunning pas de deux by Miki Mizutani and Haoliang Feng supply further icing on what is already quite a sumptuous cake.

Ruth Brill sets her Peter and the Wolf in an industrial wasteland reverberating to police sirens, the very antithesis of what has gone before. Sergei Prokofiev’s music is well known enough to be sure, so why do we need to retain the listen-with-mother narration?

I’ve always thought that the whole point of ballet was to allow the choreography to tell the story, but perhaps will now have to accept that this may be a portent of things to come in our increasingly dumbed-down existence.

Nevertheless, there are some slinky and smooth moves from Eilis Small as the cat and Karla Doorbar playing a fashionably gender-signalling Peter.

But shouldn’t we all feel sorry for Alexander Yap’s wolf, carted off to incarceration in a zoo and punished just for being a wild animal? Perhaps not – there are, after all, more important political points to be made.

So. Here we had two very different ballets, one a salute to Nature, the other turning its back on what seems to be a sentimentalised irrelevancy.

John Phillpott