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Coppelia review at Assembly George Square, Edinburgh – ‘needs a touch of theatrical WD40’

Coppelia by Feathers of Daedalus Coppelia by Feathers of Daedalus
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Circus company Feathers of Daedalus’ steampunk re-imagining of Coppelia – the classic comic ballet about a clockwork doll and her maniacal maker – needs a touch of theatrical WD40.

Delibes’ original music is eschewed in favour of an eclectic patchwork score, including bits of Mozart, James Blake, Leonard Cohen and Saint-Saens, that’s marred by abrupt cut-offs and uncomfortable transitional silences. A Kate Tempest-lite spoken word voiceover proves grating, while technical glitches with eerie Expressionist-style projections add to the frustration.

It’s a real shame because this impressive young company have an interesting slant on the source material and its inherent creepiness. Notions of mechanised, idealised womanhood are as pertinent now as ever and the performers make bold attempts at conveying the obsessive nature of toy-maker Dr Coppelius and his machinations.

There’s a flinch-inducing sequence in which he spins his beloved doll around with his hand rammed inside her mouth. But Coppelia the love-object has an uncanny agency of her own, neatly rising onto pointe with the doctor perched on her shoulders.

Peter Shirley impresses as the doll-duped lover Franz, a hormonal youth beholden to the giddy motions of the Cyr wheel. Potentially a great show, this Coppelia deserves to run with clockwork precision.


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Circus reinvention of Coppelia is animated by impressive performers but needs a smoother structure