Coppelia has often featured Franz played by a woman: it is just as fitting to have all the characters played by men in this production. The opening scene establishes Stag, Hen and Hag as Freddie, Simon and Max simply by labelling their T-shirts. Compact and effective, which is true of the entire production. It has beautiful storytelling. The performers use their bodies and facial expressions to carry the plot along and have some impressive dance moves to illuminate it. Skilled choreography by William Spencer rings the changes and keeps our interest high. There is even some soft-shoe shuffle and jazz hands thrown into the mix. And dildo duels! Aaron Clingham has orchestrated a masterful modern impression of the score which drives the dancers along.
Hayden Tierney is powerful as Freddie especially in his solo flirting with the Coppelia doll. Lewis Rimmer’s Simon has grace and fluidity, and subtly shows his exasperation that Freddie has thrown him over before winning him back. Jack Buchanan shares the action as Simon’s side-kick and matches the quality of dance.
There is plenty of comedy, not just from Thomas Buckley’s Dr C. In dark mac, sock suspenders and little round glasses he is like a malevolent Benny Hill at his manipulating, sexist height. He is efficient in giving his dance weight and not precious about looking unattractive. Excellent work.
The Supermarket Suite offers an opportunity for Buckley and Buchanan to show more dance versatility than in Dr C and Max. It is a slight piece, but starts the evening with gusto and wit. More effective storytelling.
The production only has a short run: make the effort to see it!