Known as one of the best-loved English ballets, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée is a delight and a pleasure to watch. The three-act ballet tells the tale of a beautiful romantic comedy, where Lise, a farmer’s daughter, has fallen in love with young farmer Colas. The course of true love never did run smooth, and Lise’s widowed mother is complete against the relationship. Instead, she wants her daughter to marry into a wealthy family, and so tries to set up Lise with the son of a wealthy local.
The almost fairytale-like opening sets the scene for the show. Miki Mizutani is a delicate and elegant Lisa. Ashton’s choreography is particularly tricky – one moment sees Mizutani turning on point just by the force of a ribbon. Mizutani makes the complicated and intricate moves look effortless and floats through the air like a feather.
Lachlan Monaghan is a terrific Colas, wowing the audience with his leaps and jumps. His laddish charm and confidence is a complete contrast to Mizutani’s Lise.
Playing the adorably vulnerable Alain, Lise’s suitor, Kit Holder, has a beautiful stage presence that captivates the audience. Bizarrely attached to his red umbrella, Holder’s facial expressions and repetitive movements win the audience’s love and heart.
Rory Mackay plays a hilarious Widow Simone en travesti and steals the show with his clog dance, where Mackey slides around the stage and even joins the can-can-esk kickline to end his time to shine.
Under conductor Paul Murphy, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia perform the gorgeously romantic score, arranged for Ashton by John Lanchbery from an assortment of 18th- and 19th-century sources. The score doesn’t distract from the dancers but enhances the mood and action.
I laughed as if I was watching a pantomime, and recommend this show for all the family. A real treat for all.