3 December 2014
Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
As soon as we arrived at the car park next to Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells we knew something special was happening. The car park was absolutely packed on the lower levels where we normally get a space, luckily it’s a huge car park so there was plenty of space on the upper levels.
The short walk from the car park led us to a very busy foyer buzzing with excitement as queues of people made their way to the seats for the performance of Swan Lake. The theatre was the busiest we have ever seen it showing just how much interest there was for the production from the Russian State Ballet and Opera House.
The ballet is beautifully set to music from a 30 piece orchestra and for the first five minutes the audience was on the edge of their seats listening to the familiar music whilst waiting for the curtain to go up. Because of the excellent acoustics in the Assembly Hall the theatre came alive as the orchestra played.
Swan Lake is a compelling legend of tragic romance telling the story of Prince Siegfried’s love affair with Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil curse. The story is told with impressive choreography and simple yet stunning background sets. The dancers were mesmerising as they span around in their beautiful costumes and we couldn’t take our eyes off the stage until the end of acts I & II went the curtain came down.
The spell was broken as everyone disappeared to the bar where they hold a large selection of drinks, snacks and locally produced ice creams. After we had refreshments we made our way back to our sets for acts III& IV.
The second half was just as fabulous as the evil magician Von Rothbart fights with Siegfried over the heart of Odette. The music and scenery is darker in Acts III & IV but no less mesmerising and the whole audience was hushed until the final curtain came down upon Von Rothbart’s death.
Swan Lake is an absolutely fantastic night out for either the dedicated ballet fan or first-time ballet-goer as we both were. Neither of us knew what to expect of the evening but we both had a thoroughly enjoyable time. It helped that the musical accompaniment is so well known, but even if you had never heard it before you will still enjoy the evening.
Both a trip to see Swan Lake by the Russian State Ballet and Opera House and a visit to Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall are highly recommended.
Assembly Hall Theatre, Crescent Rd, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2LU | 01892 530613