I wasn’t sure how my sons aged 6 and 8 would find watching a full length ballet, so it was with some trepidation I took them to see BalletLORENT Rapunzel at the Northern Stage.
They have watched a full length Shakespeare comedy – which they loved, and they have watched a 40 minute children’s ballet of Pinocchio – which they also loved. But the BalletLORENT adaptation of Rapunzel at the Northern Stage, was another proposition – 1 hours 50 minutes of ballet, and not just any ballet – a ballet featuring a female lead. We had plenty of snacks prepared just in case…
BalletLORENT Rapunzel is recommended for children aged 5+ and there is another version called “Rapunzel after Dark” for an adult only audience.
Well, this certainly wasn’t a girly ballet – it was packed full of drama, acrobatic dancing on high apparatus, sinister insect like baddies and a witch with whips.
It was mesmerising to watch, with stunning costumes by the costume designer of The Game of Thrones. The music was eerie and dramatic, by the composer of Dr Who. The plot and words were written by the fantastic Carol Ann Duffy. The lighting and set were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before – with a cage-like scaffolding which the dancers scaled and dangled from with ease, and lighting which made spooky silhouettes from the set and bodies of the dancers. The overall effect was very moving and evocative.
My younger son, being quite sensitive in nature, watched the first half while sitting on his nan’s knee, but after the interval he decided that it was “too scary” and he opted out of watching the second half. Having said that, he was very taken with the story and wished to find out the plot from his brother at the end of the show. He was keen to find out what happened to Rapunzel, he just couldn’t face watching it, in case there was too much peril!
If your child is sensitive too, then perhaps this isn’t the ballet for them. As a guide, if your child is afraid of the witch in the Disney version of Rapunzel “Tangled” then they will likely find the play too dark. If they are fine with it, then chances are, they will enjoy the stage version. Please be aware that themes of infertility and child abduction are present in the play (as they are in the original Grimm’s Fairytale).
I did notice that there were many young children in the audience (aged about 5 up) and none of the others left during the interval. There were no tears during the production – the audience was quietly transfixed for the duration. My 8 year old sat still as a statue while watching it – which says something for how gripping it was- he can’t even sit still for an action-packed Marvel film!
The ballet certainly isn’t all dark – there are some beautiful scenes with real babies, toddlers and children. There are some wonderful moments of children zooming across the stage on scooters, bikes and skateboards. Children are most certainly celebrated in this production – they are the thing that bring most beauty and light into the ballet – reflecting the theme of the longed-for Rapunzel bringing joy both to her biological mother and the witch who kidnaps her. It is a typical story of good overcoming evil and true love saving the day.
BalletLORENT Rapunzel will be running at the Northern Stage until 2nd October.
Tickets range from £10-£34
The BalletLORENT production of Rapunzel will be touring the country in 2023 so keep your eyes peeled for a production near you.