Who knew there was a Victorian village around the again of the New Vic? Where you thought there was simply a parking lot and a Eighties edifice, there at the moment are store home windows full of antiquarian books, caged birds and jars of sweets. Someone has been setting up youngsters’s toys in a workshop and the truffles have but to be consumed within the teashop. Overhead are rows of fairy lights and vibrant bunting. Sheet-music butterflies decide on the crops.
It could be chocolate-box idyllic if it weren’t for one factor. The longer you have a look at the bric-a-brac, the extra you notice the eyeballs. Counting them is enjoyable, however sinister as properly.
That contradiction between the pleasant and the troubling sums up this superb promenade adaptation by Theresa Heskins. At any second, you possibly can be in for a jolly adventure or led up a morally doubtful path. Lis Evans’s exemplary design, with its fairly Slavic costumes and creepy hanging limbs, solely provides to the paradox.
Drawing on the original ETA Hoffmann stories and the well-known ballet, Heskins retells the story of Dr Coppelius and his amazingly life-like puppet daughter. Our entry level is Corinna Brown’s Swanhilde who, armed with curiosity the place money fails, helps us commit a daring raid on the primary theatre to uncover extra in regards to the ultra-realistic doll.
Bouncing excitedly on her toes, she wins us over along with her high-pitched snicker and zest for all times. She additionally provides us permission to assume Michael Hugo’s Coppelius is a little bit of a weirdo. We want that as a result of there’s something peculiar about him. Who else would wine and dine a mechanical doll – even one as mesmerising as Kira McPherson? He places Coppelia via her stiff-jointed paces as if he expects her to come to life. It doesn’t appear unreasonable to play a trick on a person like that.
Having led us into temptation, Heskins takes us out of the dream-like theatre and into the readability of day. We’ve been complicit in Swanhilde’s boisterous behaviour and the doubts are setting in. Did Coppelius not have his causes? Was Swanhilde too harmful? Is there a method to make amends?
There is, after all, and, in 2021, what higher method to end than with a metaphor for rebirth, reconciliation and renewal?