REVIEWED: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Beauty and the Beast at The Lowry

Laura Joffre | 22nd March 2019


Birmingham Royal Ballet is delighting audiences at the Lowry this week with a magical performance of Beauty and the Beast. The company excels in this classic fairytale, a revival of a 2003 creation, choreographed by director David Bintley.


The production is grandiose, taking the audience into a fantasy universe of golden palaces and mysterious forests. The dark designs keep more in the shadows than they reveal, and when the set comes to life, it is hard to know what is imagined and what is real, creating a very eerie atmosphere throughout. The game of light and shadows, like chiaroscuro in a Rembrandt painting, adds depth and drama to the ballet.


Delia Mathews as Belle and Iain Mackay as the Beast

The choreography, innovative yet classical-based, with girls en pointe, is beautifully outlined by all members of the cast. Brandon Lawrence gives an outstanding performance as the Beast/Prince, with impressive dancing and subtle interpretation. His movements are fluid and effortless, and his energy seems limitless.


Beyond technical prowess, his dancing fully expresses the complexity of the character: at the start, Lawrence’s sharp and brutal movements translate the cruelty of a Prince fascinated by hunting and violence; when he is turned into the Beast in retaliation for his behaviour, frustration and anger put tension in all his gestures. But as his love for Belle – the elegant, polite and distinguished Yvette Knight – grows, he goes on a journey of atonement, gradually becoming more tender, caring and selfless, and the final pas-de-deux is a triumph of trust and harmony between the two main dancers. Knight is the ultimate ballerina, with a gracious neckline and a foot-work to die for, appropriately reserved and shy until the final scene where she emerges as a passionate woman. 



Delia Mathews as Belle


The music by Canadian composer Glenn Buhr, created especially for Bintley’s choreography, was played with energy and enthusiasm by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the direction of Paul Murphy. Very expressive, the score highlights the action and emotions of the characters, however it lacks a distinctive tune for the audience to remember.


Some of the more comical scenes, involving Belle’s despicable sisters and Monsieur Cochon, their wealthy and loathing fiancé, do not work as well as the dramatic core of the story: the plot is hard to read and the jokes get lost. But altogether this production is another example of the world-class standard of Birmingham Royal Ballet. On all levels – dance, music, set and costumes – the consistency of quality is always a pleasure. The company will be presenting Swan Lake at the Lowry in a years’ time, and it promises to be an absolute must-see. 






You too can watch the magical performance here:



Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Beauty and the Beast is at the Lowry until Saturday March 23. Tickets and more information can be found here.