OVER HEARD ; over Heard by Louise Levene at the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty

Article excerpt

"They were wooden last year." An unexpected criticism of the Royal Ballet from a mere four-year-old. "They were wooden. I remember. And mine broke." She digs her plastic spoon gingerly into her Old-Fashioned Vanilla. Some of the flavours on offer are a bit over their heads: "These are all they've got darling.

Coffee or stem ginger?"

Christmas ballet is the thinking child's panto: it offers more ice-cream breaks and you get to wear puff sleeves. Anybody shouting "Oi! You in the tartan frock!" would be crushed to death in the stampede of black patent party shoes. Among this season's more eccentric accessories are a policeman's helmet ("The lady behind you can't see, darling") and a large moth-eaten St Bernard ("Why can't he have an ice cream?"). Meanwhile a golden-haired child takes her pounds 20 seat in the front row of the Grand Tier casually turned out in sweatshirt and tiara. "Mummy. Mummy. MUMMY! I can't SEE," complains the young duchess at the front of the slightly raised Stalls Circle. Can't see? A midget in flats could see from there. …