On July 24, GTW attended the press launch of English National Ballet’s UK Tour of Coppélia. The English National Ballet is one of the world’s most respected ballet companies, with over 65 dancers.

English National Ballet's Coppelia rehearsal

Designer Desmond Heeley did well to create an authentic fairytale setting

Performed at the prestigious London Coliseum, guests were welcomed by a generous drinks reception and finger buffet hosted in the American Bar. There was very little seating space, which gave everyone the chance to mingle with fellow theatergoers.

We were seated in stalls, which were close to the stage, but perhaps provided a limited view of the orchestra, which performed below. The interior décor emitted a fancy and fine feel well suited to an older demographic, however the show is also tailored to a younger audience. The narrative follows the comic tale of eccentric toymaker, Dr Coppélius, his mechanical Coppélia doll (of which the production is named) and his mission to bring her to life, expressed through the medium of dance.

The production has an average running time of two hours, with three short intervals, which often left the audience in a state of bewilderment. The theatre erupted in song to triumph the start, with the cylindrical structure carrying the ambience well. Conducted by Tom Seligman, the curtain rose to view an authentic fairytale setting, with dancers dressed in authentic foreign fare, as the production is set in the quaint town of Galicia, Spain.

English National Ballet's Coppelia rehearsal

Romance prevailed in the final chapter of the production

Ballet is a rather distinct taste compared to other theatre productions in the area, and I was intrigued to view a production that relied solely on body language to communicate a plot to the audience. Every little detail had been accentuated, including the soothing sound of tapping feet as the dancers moved across the stage. Even after one interval, I could feel myself wanting to discover more.

For this, Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director and Ronald Hynd, Choreography, should be commended for their triumphant efforts. The second act boasted the same level of consistency, with the audience intrigued to see the inside of the toymaker’s house, again, very well constructed by designer Desmond Heeley. The plot continued to develop with no hint as to what will occur in the final chapter. The Coppélia doll took centre stage here, but then fizzled out towards the end of the production, as romance prevailed between local boy Franz and Swanilda.

Overall, the production was a delight to watch and couldn’t have been easier to follow. Now entering its 30th year, Coppélia will be on tour until November 8, visiting the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from October 15 and the New Theatre in Oxford from October 28. Groups can enjoy exclusive discounts on performances from Wednesday to Friday at 1930hrs and Saturday’s for performances at 1430hrs, with a saving of up to £8 per ticket. This offer is valid for groups of 10+ or 20+ School groups of 10 or more could pay from £6 per head, with one teacher gaining free entry with every 10 tickets booked.

Call the Group Bookings Line on 02380 711 812 or email groups@mayflower.org.uk for more information.