Review: Coppelia – A Mystery @ The New Vic

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Any parent looking for something a little different and wishing to add a little bit of midsummer magic to these long school holidays could do a lot worse than making a booking for the New Vic’s latest production.

Coppelia – A Mystery has been a long time in the making as it was originally intended as last Christmas’s offering and then it was hoped to male an appearance at Easter but has finally emerged as a charming butterfly of a production to delight the summer audience.

Based on Hoffman’s ballet Coppelia, it tells the tale of a master doll maker who has tragically lost his only daughter and has created a doll to take her place. Swanhilde torments the Doctor as she wishes to own the automaton herself but when her naughtiness almost destroys the beloved doll, she realises the error of her ways and provides a joyously tearful ending.

Swanhilde is coquettishly played by Corinna Brown who puts in a strong performance on her professional debut while another debutant – Kira McPherson – is convincing as Coppelia. New Vic favourite Michael Hugo puts in his usual assured display as the eccentric but troubled Dr Coppelius while another returnee Farhaan Shah provides the excellent musical accompaniment.

Director Theresa Heskins wished this performance to be an immersive experience for the audience and she delivers in style. From the moment the audience member arrives they are led into an enchanting series of huts and shop frontages set in the theatre’s delightful gardens while given the task to find the missing artificial eyes needed by the Doctor to make more of his dolls.

The action takes place both inside and outside the newly-refurbished auditorium and all is safe and socially-distanced with each family having its own bubble. Theresa also wished for the performance to be short enough to not require an interval – a production fit for these troubling times. There is no doubt that she has succeeded.

At just under an hour in length – although add another twenty minutes for the pre-performance activity – Coppelia is enchantingly satisfying while leaving the audience member craving for a little more. I do hope that in more normal times Coppelia can come back with a larger audience that will allow the attempts at audience participation to get a better response.

To sum up though this is an unmissable show that is suitable for all ages and my ten-year old granddaughter who accompanied me was charmed throughout.

The production continues until August 7th. Contact the Box Office on 01782 717962