The Duck Pond, a carnival re-imagining of the Tchaivosky classic Swan Lake, is simply a breathtaking piece of theatre, one that entrances from the get go with its inventive stagecraft and magnificently physical choreography.
The piece begins with James Bennett’s Prince Siegfried celebrating his twenty-first birthday at his kingdom. “I can finally drink legally in the Americas” he shouts as he ponders his new opportunities as a man. Siegfried’s parents however still see him as child and invite a traveling Russian circus to come to town for his pleasure. Run by the barrel chested Rothbart (Tom Figgins), he is wonderful here, a honey toned but poison veined man who fills the stage with menace. All, unsurprisingly, is not as it seems however for Siegfried: Rothbart has cast a spell on Tom Coxon’s Odin causing him to become a rubber duck during daylight hours. When the two fatefully meet, love’s spell is tragically cast.
Whilst this slightly work-a-day fairytale plot is enlivened by some wry asides and modern updates, it is the songs that elevate the production to a higher plane. Bombastic, rich and joyous, the talented cast is relentless here, singing every memorable song with conviction and purpose. The verve and ecstasy is matched perfectly by the audience interaction throughout. At the start, for example, presents are dished out to patrons, with each one hilariously called back throughout the narrative to push the story forward.
With such a consummate cast it feels wrong to single anyone out, but Bennett as Siegfriend and Izzy Jones as a background performer and then potential suitor are incredible. Both capable of extraordinarily moving solo vocal performances as well as stunning dance.
The Duck Pond then is perfect for fans of musicals where the skill of the actors matches the genius of the composers. Only being aware of the source material from a feathered Natalie Portman, I was naive to the punishing conclusion that the story takes: bring tissues and applause.
The Duck Pond is at the Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) until 24 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe Website.