DanceNorth East & YorkshireReview

Ballet Cymru’s DREAM – Stanley & Aubrey Burton Theatre, Leeds

Reviewer: Ron Simpson

Choreographers: Darius James OBE and Amy Doughty

Composer: Frank Moon

Ballet Cymru’s energetic and youthfully exhilarating DREAM is based on Darius James and Amy Doughty’s reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A sensible simplification of the story gets rid of Theseus and Hippolyta and straightens the story out in various smaller ways. One change is making Lysander into a female, somewhat unnecessary one might think, but the scenes between Lysandia (Caitlin Jones) and Hermia (Kotone Sugiyama), including the very opening of the ballet, are delightful, full of youthful affection and played with a lightly humorous touch.

James and Doughty fill some 20 parts with ten dancers, colourful costume changes (though Oberon and Titania’s costumes could have done with a bit more magical drama) freeing them all to play two parts. Most of the traditional ballet is left to the athletic Robbie Moorcroft (Oberon) and the gracefully self-satisfied Isobel Holland (Titania), the all-but-final duet, with its lifts and dancing en pointe, especially, rounding things off between the inspired nuttiness of Pyramus and Thisbe and the madcap fluttering of fairies through the house. Sanea Singh as Puck winds herself sinuously round Oberon, though this version underplays the humour as against the otherworldly magic.

Jacob Hornsey (Demetrius) and Beth Meadway (Helena) form an effective “second couple”, the struggles in the wood full of visual humour and the final dance of reconciliation delightful. Hornsey as Bottom joins the fussily officious Jethro Paine (Quince) in leading his troupe of rude mechanicals in a series of galumphing dances, culminating in a riotous version of Pyramus and Thisbe. Equalling Shakespeare’s comedy in this scene is a rare challenge and Ballet Cymru just about do it, with Wall kicking it all off with a splendid tap dance, Pyramus galloping his way to an untimely end and Thisbe milking her death for all it’s worth. And the music is terrific, with banging and crashing from all parties setting the rhythm.

James and Doughty keep the staging simple, with three blocks the only on-stage set until Pyramus and Thisbe when circus-style poles and flags are set up. The video projections are not exciting, but add to atmosphere – the house at the beginning is nice.

As for the music, Frank Moon offers a wide variety of styles – country, Middle Eastern, electronic – with winsome melodies emerging from time to time. In its eclectic approach he seems to mirror the whole production which charms and amuses in equal measure.

Reviewed on 12th November 2022.

The Reviews Hub Score

Delightful version

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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