DOGS DON’T DO BALLET
adapted by David Duffy and Andrea Sadler from the book by Anna Kemp illustrated by Sara Ogilvie.
Little Angel Theatre Tour to 21 April 2013.
Runs 45min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 January at Little Angel Theatre.
It’s all tutu splendid.
Here’s fun for everyone 2-6, or anyone else lucky enough to be able to tag along with someone from that age-range. Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie’s picture-book might have been made with such an adaptation in mind, so fluently do its events take to the stage. And provide a neat contrast between the human-played characters, Ronnie Le Drew’s grande-dame ballet-teacher in sweeping colourful robes, and humbler assistant Marjorie, who wants the local hall for a jumble sale rather than Madame’s lessons. Andrea Sadler has a sympathetic down-to-earth manner, with assured northern terseness as Anna’s moustachioed father asserting the title sentiment.
But it’s star-pupil Anna who has the tale to tell. Her stern-looking, and macho-named mastiff Biff isn’t one to waste life fetching newspapers; he wants to dance and, dodging dad’s assurance dogs don’t do such things, he skilfully follows Anna to practice. There’s plenty of fun as he stays out of her sight, while delighted audiences see him peering at everything from any vantage point he can find. Finally, encouraged by the star ballerina herself, Biff makes it to the opera-house, taking over when an unfortunate accident temporarily incapacitates her.
Events flow along to a near-continuous piano track that begins Scott Joplinesque and continues through several balletic works, Alex Carter’s score making particularly flexible use of Peter Hertel’s tuneful Clog Dance from La Fille Mal Gardée. The music gives a sense of silent film comedy to events between the spare spoken dialogue – which includes Madame’s opening lesson for the audience.
It could, of course, have been called ‘Boys Don’t Do Ballet’ and become an earnest criticism of male stereotyping. This way it makes its point without insisting upon it while providing the cuddly friendliness of a shaggy-dog story. Both the puppet row of three girl ballet students in class and Biff up on his hind legs going through his paces are handled skilfully and amusingly, for the other point of the story is that success at ballet doesn’t come without practice.
But practice does famously make perfect – which is just about what this show is in its skilful storytelling and humour.
Cast: Ronnie Le Drew, Andrea Sadler.
Director: David Duffy.
Designer: Tim Sykes.
Sound: Reuben Cornell.
Pianist: Alex Carter.
Puppets/Costume: Keith Frederick.
Assistant director: Marie Sennyey.
Assistant designer: Catherine Thomas.
20-23 Feb 12pm & 3pm Mat Fri & Sat 10.30am Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre Highgate 020 8341 4421 www.jacksonslane.org.uk
1 Mar 10am Haverhill Arts Centre 01440 714140 www.haverhillartscentre.co.uk
2 Mar 2pm Gulbenkian Theatre 01227 769075 www.kent.ac.uk/gulbenkian
3 Mar 2.30pm Quarter House Folkestone 01303 858500 www.quarterhouse.co.uk
8-9 Mar Fri 10.30am & 1pm; Sat 11.30am & 3pm The Egg Bath 01225 448844 www.theatreroyal.org.uk
10 Mar 1pm & 3pm The Albany Deptford 020 8692 4446 www.thealbany.org.uk
15 Mar 12.30pm The Dome Brighton (Café Bar) 01273 709709 www.brightondome.org
16 Mar 11am & 2pm Half Moon Young People’s Theatre London E1 0ND 020 7709 8900 www.halfmoon.org.uk
17 Mar 3pm Watermans Arts Centre Brentford 020 8232 1010 www.watermans.org.uk
19 Mar 1.30pm & 4pm The Radlett Centre 01923 859291 www.radlettcentre.co.uk
22 Mar 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm York Theatre Royal (Studio) 01904 623568 www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
23-24 Mar 1.30pm & 3.30pm Lakeside Arts Centre Nottingham 0115 846 7777 www.lakesidearts.org.uk
29 Mar, 1 Apr 11am & 2pm Little Angel Theatre Islington 020 7226 1787 www.littleangeltheatre.com
30 Mar 10.30am & 1.30pm Tara Arts London 020 8333 4457 www.tara-arts.com
2 Apr 11am & 2pm Parabola Arts Centre Cheltenham 01242 707338 www.parabolaartscentre.co.uk
3-6 Apr 2pm Mat Thu-Sat 10.30am Harrogate Theatre (Studio) 01423 502116 www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk
7 Apr 11.30am & 2.30pm The Junction (J2) Cambridge 01223 511511 www.junction.co.uk
9-13 Apr 2.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 11am Norwich Puppet Theatre 01603 629921 www.puppettheatre.co.uk
17 Apr The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre Chorlton Manchester 0161 282 9776 www.watersedgearts.com
18 Apr 1pm Burnley Youth Theatre 01282 458655 www.burnleyyouththeatre.com
19 Apr 11am & 1pm Z-Arts Hulme Manchester 0161 232 6089 www.z-arts.org
20-21 Apr 11.30am & 2.30pm Waterside Arts Centre Sale 0161 912 5616 watersideartscentre.co.uk