17 JANUARY 1964, Page 19

Faust and Furious

TAKE a girl like Cleo- patra, throw in Apollo, a few dozen nymphs with- out their attendant shep- herds, stir rapidly with an equal number of fauns, add a nameless gladiator and an unmentionable courte- san, let the devil do his damnedest, set the whole thing to Gounod's Faust, carefully disregarding the

music, tell everyone to jump higher. spin faster and go madder, tell them once more for good measure, close your eyes and that—very roughly - -must be a recipe for Vaslav Orlikovsky's

frighteningly awe-inspiring ballet Walpurgis

Night. Premiered at the Albert Hall this week, it is ghastly enough to be memorable, and corny enough to be, on its own preposterous terms, en- joyable. Festival Ballet hurl themselves into this maelstrom with the air of drowning men hoping to make [nicks out of the very straws they are clutching. Surprisingly, they virtually succeed. The choreography is so ridiculously difficult and so grandly bad that the dancers emerge with laurel leaves in their hair, for Festival Ballet, who never hesitate to try anything twice whenever there's a matinee, give this razzmatazz romp almost magnificently. The result is like the Albert Memorial being picked out in neon lighting- yulgar, funny and disquietingly impressive.

The men do splendidly, particularly Gilpin, Musil, McGrath and Kelly, but, little Lucette Aldous apart, Festival Ballet are less blessed on the distaff side. This is where their Russian guests come into their own. Svetlana Adyrkaeva, a sultry and commanding lady from the Bolshoi,, reigned over Festival Ballet's Nutcracker like an Empress, and found a worthy consort in Alexei Zakalinski, who looks strangely like a Russian Nureyev.

In the party pieces that close the Albert Hall evening, the Russians have now put their house in order. The conditions, of course, are as inimical to theatrical illusion as ever—it is like perform- ing conjuring tricks wearing only a bikini, you have nothing up your sleeve but your talent—yet they are now far better coped with.

The troupe has been strengthened by two fresh Bolshoi stars, Marina Kondratieva and Maris Liepa, who are wildly poetic in the familiar Spring Waters. The deliciously pure Makarova has, unhappily, relinquished the Giselle excerpts to the Bolshoi newcomer, but herself now de- lights in Le Corsaire. Kolpakova is still there as enchanting as ever, and if some of the classical men are a little pallid, a group of bouncy charac- ter dancers make good the vitamin deficiency. In all an entertaining programme—if only it had come sooner and stayed longer.