Friday, May 4, 2018

The Little Mermaid - Northern Ballet

My flat is still slowly drying out, still smells strongly of damp plasterboard, and I'm still without lights because the one in the bathroom is doing something threatening (it flickers on regardless, pops, fizzes, and can only be stopped by turning all the lights off at the fuse box). An electrician is coming back on Tuesday, by when we hope that everything will be properly dry. I'm not really enjoying sitting in the dark.

All of which made going to see 'The Little Mermaid' even more of a treat than anticipated. My ballet preferences are for the fairly traditional - I like a story I can follow, I'm not well informed enough to really appreciate what I'm seeing without that narrative to frame it.

The decision to see The Little Mermaid was based almost entirely on the costumes in the posters that appeared round town, though it was also great to go and see something in my local theatre (The Curve in Leicester). I'd like to visit this theatre more, and would but that most the things I want to see are only on for a few days and my working pattern doesn't always fit well with ticket availability. This was a reminder to make a bit more effort. 

Back to those posters - the mermaids fish tail made me want to see how the whole production would work, and when I managed to persuade a friend who does not particularly like ballet to come with me it was a done deal. The best thing about the night was seeing how much she loved it.

This Little Mermaid is much more Hans Christian Anderson (yet again begging the question - why are his depressing, violent, stories given to children?) than Disney. Marilla, the Mermaid falls in love with an image of Prince Adair, before rescuing him from a shipwreck. She begs the lord of the sea to give her a human body, which he does for the price of her voice, and a warning that walking will be agony for her. She accepts the terms, and washed ashore where the prince finds her, but he's already fallen in love with another woman who he believes rescued him. 

Marilla is taken into the royal household where she becomes something of a pet to the prince, and speechless as she is can only watch events unfold. Anyone familiar with Anderson knows what happens next. 

The costumes were as clever as the poster promised, the set just as good. The opening underwater scenes with a mottled mirrored background, dappled lighting, and the occasional use of elegant fish and jellyfish puppets is magical. The costumes for the land scenes are all in earthy colours, which contrast perfectly with Marilla's silvery blue and green costumes and further highlight her isolation. 

The whole thing was genuinely moving (I swear, tears that had nothing to do with careless neighbors and flood damage, plus also that won over to the delights of ballet friend), Minju Kang as Marilla, and Javier Torres as Prince Adair were both spectacular. Anybody who gets the chance to see this should go, and I will make every effort to see anything Northern Ballet put on near me in the future. 


  1. I imagine any excuse to get out of your flat is welcome!

    1. It was. Everything seems dry again now, and eventually I'll start thinking about painting, but what a nuisance it's been.

  2. I love Northern Ballet, and I always try to see them when they come to London. I'll have to check whether this is coming (or whether I have managed to miss it!)

    I hope that you have got your lights working again.

    1. Lights back, it took a week. I'll certainly be looking out for northern ballet from now on, they were amazing.