Birmingham Royal Ballet is currently performing the classic ballet Beauty and the Beast at the Birmingham Hippodrome. David Bintley's version of this Gothic fairytale, which sometimes scares you, and and sometimes makes you laugh, is a happily-ever-after love story that greatly demonstrates the talented dancers' partnering skills and acting abilities.

Delia Mathews (Belle) © Caroline Holden
Delia Mathews (Belle)
© Caroline Holden

BRB has a knack for presenting incredibly complete shows. Their staging and costumes are always top quality and Beauty and the Beast was no exception. The lovely stacked book shelves of the opening scene and the grim, mysterious, yet mesmerizingly beautiful mansion of the Beast, which contained various very well-done special effects, were just two of the many instances in which BRB's high aesthetic and glorious scenery were highlighted. BRB's dancers are of high calibre. The principals embody their characters in such a believable fashion...combine this with their technique, and their dancing shines and fills the theatre with joy.

The leads, Beast, played by Iain MacKay and Belle, played by Delia Mathews, were beautiful together, especially in the first grand pas de deux. Mathews surrendered to the Beast's arms and he dipped, lifted and twirled her around as she developee'd her sculpted legs. They were strong together, but individually too; their solos equally captivating. In Act One, we meet Mathews in the opening scene on the stairs, where we see her reading books that carry her away to a land of fascination and imagination. Her child-like curiosity and playful dancing were sweet and gentle. Contrasting this youthful nature were MacKay's solos, which were sharp and brassy. The heavy costuming never compromised MacKay's movement and the electricity from his hands and leg extensions was pleasing to watch. Together, Mathews and MacKay were splendid. Their commitment to the acting was genuine and these two have a very special chemistry and certitude in their movement.

Delia Mathews (Belle) and Iain Mackay (The Beast) © Caroline Holden
Delia Mathews (Belle) and Iain Mackay (The Beast)
© Caroline Holden

David Bintley's choreography was at times a bit repetitive and predictable but overall he crafted a lovely ballet. In Act One, the duet between Belle's two vain self-centered sisters, played by Celine Gittens and Ana Albutahvili, is theatrical and technically peppered with lots of gestural motions. Bintley's use of comedy, and his timing remind me of John Cranko's work. A musical Waltz scene opens Act Two, airy and joyous, with an inventive and well executed dance for the leads. The entire corps de Ballet's swaying with Mackay and Mathews was spot on. Another great moment, in Act Two, is with Belle's sisters. This trio between Gittens, Albutahvili and Oliver Till comical, the partnering, jumps with windmill leg kicks and facial mimicry hilarious. The choreography, combined with excellent execution by the dancers, had the house in stitches.

In the end, Belle loves the Beast and the ugliness melts away to reveal the handsome Prince. Their blissful union is marked with a lovely dance. The Birmingham Royal Ballet's Beauty and Beast is a wonderful interpretation of the well known story  of the cursed cruel Prince who finds love and eventually softens and lives happily ever after with his Belle.