Dogs Don’t Do Ballet @ The Bowler Hat (City of London Festival)

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet is a charming tale of a young girl, Anna, and her dog, Biff, who longs to be a ballet dancer, but is constantly told “Dogs don’t do Ballet!”. The production is based on the book ‘Dogs Don’t Do Ballet’ which is written by Anna Kemp and cheerily illustrated by Sara Ogilvie. Dogs Don’t Do Ballet is a Little Angel production, directed by David Duffy and performed by Ronnie Le Drew and Andrea Sadler. I saw this show at The Bowler Hat, a pop up venue in Paternoster Square near St Paul’s Cathedral which was surprisingly spacious and comfortable on a hot London day.

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The piece is incredibly visually engaging for young audiences, the set is constantly changing with characters appearing from unexpected places – constantly surprising the audience. The character of the “ballet teacher” played by Ronnie Le Drew has a great rapport with the audience as he starts the show with an interactive ballet class and keeps talking to the children throughout the show to keep them engaged and involved.

The show offered a feast of puppets tackled by only two performers and their performance is nothing short of impressive. They are all beautifully made and flawlessly manipulated. One section that particularly stands out is Biff’s dream sequence where he is chased and harassed by objects relating to his ballet dancing dream. The section is visually stunning and slickly choreographed as the performers dart around the space. The constantly changing objects keep the children in the audience mesmerised. Another highlight is Biff’s grand performance at the end which is delightful and heart warming.

Andrea Sadler has wonderful comic timing especially when playing the ballet teacher’s assistant.  Another clever feature is when a small puppet version of this character appears, the change in perspective creates a great gag which amuses the children.

The show lasts 45 minutes and kept almost all the children fully engaged until the end (a very impressive feat).  This was a high energy performance, constantly developing and surprising the audience. 4/5

Review written by Lucy Bishop.

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Dogs Don’t Do Ballet is currently showing at The Bowler Hat as part of this year’s City of London Festival until Saturday 28th June. For more information on the production, visit here…

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