Review: La Fille mal gardee at the Theatre Royal, Norwich

La Fille mal Gardee. Photo: Courtesy of Norwich Theatre Royal

La Fille mal Gardee. Photo: Courtesy of Norwich Theatre Royal - Credit: Courtesy of Norwich Theatre Royal

It's no wonder this is one of the oldest ballets still being performed.

La Fille mal gardee tells the story of two starstruck lovers who can't be kept apart, despite the often hilarious efforts of the female lead's mother.

The characters are all likeable and whilst you're hoping for a happy ending for the hero Colas (played alternately by Yuri Kudriavtsev and Marcello Pelizzoni) and his sweetheart Lise (played by Ekaterina Bulgotova/Elena Svinko), it's Lise's mum, the Widow Simone, who really steals the show.

Played with aplomb by Pavel Kirchev, the Widow brings a touch of camp humour to the piece and the whole ballet has an air of a pantomime. It's this sense of fun which explains why the show has endured for so long.

This was the first ballet I've seen but it was more fun than I was expecting - a raucous romp that seemed a world apart from the heavier themes of something like Swan Lake.

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Despite the fact that no words at all are used to tell this story, it's easy enough to follow and even this ballet novice only got lost once or twice, with the dancers expertly using their movements and facial expressions to tell this love story.

In a couple of places characters are introduced, such as the village notary, and it's not always so clear who they are, but the whole story is explained in the programme.

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You don't need to be an expert in ballet to appreciate the grace and athleticism of those on stage, and the dizzying twirls of Lise are a sight to behold.

The festive scenes feature an impressive number of dancers and showcase the best that the Russian State Ballet of Siberia have to offer.

Finally, there was a touching moment during curtain call when the conductor was brought on stage - a reminder that the ballerinas are not the only ones who have put on a fantastic show, but the orchestra do a stellar job as well.


The Russian State Ballet of Siberia's tenure at the Norwich Theatre Royal continues 7.30pm tonight (Tuesday, January 15) with a performance of Giselle, and on Wednesday, January 16 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm with Cinderella.

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