Peter and the Wolf live

Brighton Dome Concert Hall

December 21 2010

It was an intriguing prospect to see just what the Southbank Centre’s reimagining of Sergei Prokofiev’s classic piece would lead to, but I’m glad to say the show was an undoubted triumph for both young and old audience members alike.

With the script and poetry penned by Simon Armitage, it’s safe to say that the narrator was in able hands, telling the audience to think of Peter as “a living, walking violin”.

The 22-piece Orchestra Of The Blue Balloon was in fine form, ably led by conductor Mark Stephenson. But the real focus of the concert was BreakThru Films’ 2006 Oscar-winning Peter And The Wolf animated short, screened here with live musical accompaniment.

It was striking to see just how much could be conveyed without words; when Peter loses a friend, his bright blue eyes portray unmistakable contempt for the wolf.

Whilst many children were in attendance, this was no simple kids’ show; issues of love, loss, friendship and death are all tackled within the tale, although there is still room for laughter.

The joy shown in the bird’s face when he leaps from tree-tops with the aid of a blue balloon will not be easily forgotten, while it is difficult to overestimate the comedic role of the cat. Although we would perhaps like to liken ourselves to the heroic Peter within the tale, the role of the greedy, subservient feline is perhaps far more agreeable to our palettes than one would first think.

The tale seemed particularly relevant given the worries of letting children play in their streets. The film strikes a naturalistic chord, allowing you to interpret the menacing wolf as a creature of habit. He eats the duck because he is a wolf, but is not a malevolent creature in and of himself.

In this respect, the denouement of the wolf being freed by Peter was all the more poignant, seeing as the wolf does not attack the boy upon being released from capture, but runs free, which is all that Peter really wants.

The narrator ended by saying that the tale was primarily about “rules to break …(and) risks to take”, suggesting that defiance and personal responsibility remain paramount to personal control. In some ways, the tale of young Peter tells us more about the human condition than we may want to know, although I, for one, am glad for it.

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