REVIEW: Hansel and Gretel, Theatre Royal, Newcastle

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LOSE yourself in this charmingly comedic version of a classic tale.

Hansel and Gretel are brought to life with perfect precision by Scottish Ballet in a show that engages the whole family.

With a beer-swilling father who hiccups his way back home and a cigarette-puffing mother who manages to be beautifully slobbish in her head dress and slippers, this production manages to imbue the tale with a modern edge whilst still maintaining its fairytale integrity.

Hansel (Andrew Peasgood) and Gretel (Bethany Kingsley-Garner) competently lead the show as the wide-eyed siblings who sneak past their parents in search of adventure.

Inevitably, they end up being lured through the woods by a suitably creepy witch and her sweetie-wielding familiars.

Here, they meet a kaleidoscope of characters: a trio of feathered ravens who leap across the stage in a feat of balletic athleticism, a duo of dastardly chefs intent on fattening them up and pretty dancing ladies who beguile and distract them from the deadly fate that lies ahead.

Luciana Ravizzi puts in a stunning performance as the witch as she switches between her many guises: from bespectacled schoolmistress to a beautiful ballerina to an old hag once inside the gingerbread house who devours children for breakfast.

The dancing is beautiful and keeps the story-telling fluid and easy to understand for younger members of the audience, although it’s not the most complex of pieces I’ve seen.

Still, it’s a delight to watch. Particularly, the dénouement in which the wicked witch gets her comeuppance, with spot-on black comic timing from Ravizzi.

Special mention must also go to local budding ballet dancers who joined the company for the finale, displaying their twinkle-toed talent.

Katy Wheeler