BWW Review: THE WOLF AND PETER, Pavilion Theatre, Nov 2015

If discovering Sergei Prokofiev's 1936 composition for young audiences, Peter and the Wolf, was a thrill for CoisCéim choreographer David Bolger, you'd sense it in the opening of his new dance adaptation. Individuals happen upon a piano, excitable by its music, until interrupted by a pianist (Conor Linehan) with a shock of white hair.

"Early one morning" as the story goes, Peter opened the gate, and went out into the big green meadow". Ivonne Kalter playfully moves to the crunches of Linehan's piano, encountering a poised Bird (Jonathan Mitchell), an artless Duck (Wojciech Grudziñski) and a coolheaded Cat (Emma O'Kane).

In Prokofiev's music, characters are assigned particular instruments indicating their actions throughout the narrative. Bolger's translation of that into motion is to find distinctive physical languages for his dancers. Mitchell is upright and privileged, Grudziñski's gestures are brilliantly big-legged and clumsy, while O'Kane gives swift sophisticated movements.

In this encouraging introduction to contemporary dance for a younger audience, Monica Frawley's design is wisely modern. A green clearing is back-grounded by a thicket of tall columns where action can be played to complexities between the trees, while costumes are fashioned from familiar furs and garments of modern dress. The breakdancing arrival of the Wolf (Mateusz Sxczerek) is also a full acknowledgement of contemporary culture.

It's where the physical vocabularies clash that Bolger's choreography is most compelling, whether sparring with O'Kane's mercenary feline or Szczerek's nimble wolf. Other points of contact are curiously poignant, where Peter dons the rubber ring previously worn by the tragic Duck, or mimics the turns of the imprisoned Wolf. These moments demonstrate extraordinary connections with animals, and possibly the debt to them for invigorating our imaginations

In this respect, Bolger's magical adaptation bespeaks not the warnings of dangerous forests common in fairytales, but the payoffs of taking chances on the world beyond the meadow gate.

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From This Author Chris McCormack

Chris McCormack is a theatre critic based in Dublin. He blogs on and writes for A Younger Theatre, Irish Theatre Magazine and the Arts (read more...)