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Review: Vienna Festival Ballet’s Coppelia, The Place @ Oakengates
13 Oct 2015
by Dani Wozencroft

After a long day at work the thought of relaxing to enjoy the ballet at The Place, Oakengates Theatre, in Telford, was a comforting one.

Of course, not before fighting through rush hour traffic, rushing to cook something vaguely edible, eating as much as I could of the vaguely edible food, hot-footing it to the theatre and hunting for a car parking space when all the more organised theatre-goers had got there before me.
But not this time!

I went to The Place an hour before the show was due to start, having had 10 minutes at home to change, and sat down to a leisurely two course meal with my friend.  For our pre-show dining experience I had pre-ordered the steak and onion pie while my friend had lasagne – we both went for cheesecake as a dessert.

While it may feel a bit odd sitting in the corner of the library to be waited on – and I imagine a lot more relaxing if there were other diners there too – for £8 each, you can’t really complain. The difference it made to the start of our evening means there is no question as to whether I’d do it again. No rushing, well fed on better-than expected food, drinks in hand and ready to enjoy the ballet.

The Vienna Festival Ballet’s Coppelia didn’t dampen my mood either. With a timeless classic of love, youth and lust – the performance was delivered with humour and poise.

The plot, about a silly old man who makes mechanised life-size toys which become the affection of the village boy Franz, was delivered with grace by a young but effortlessly talented cast.

The romance between Franz and Swanhilda was a lively production with colourful costumes. The lighting enhanced each dance move and the music from Delibes matched the mood set on stage, moving the audience.

Yes, there were a few trips and at times dancers out of sync – and very frustratingly a slightly crooked backdrop for the start of act two – but when Swanhilda takes on the role of the doll to defeat her love rival it took me back to playing with my musical jewellery box as a young girl. So lifelike, or doll-like, were the moves, I put my hand to my mouth with amazement.

With a small cast the Vienna Festival Ballet created a professional and enjoyable show, and I believe just a hint of what could come from them in the future.