Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Serafina Cusack

Artistic Director: Tory Dobrin

Executive Director: Liz Harler

Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, or The Trocks as they are affectionately known, are an iconic gender-bending, all-male, drag ballet group. They return to the UK with an extensive tour of an impressive repertoire. Depending on the night you choose to go you may see something different, but everyone gets to experience Swan Lake.  The dancers, all with their own drag names and backstories, fumble through the known and loved second act of Swan Lake with no shortage of visual gags. The show is three short, half an hour parts, with intervals nearly as long. It is a very comfortable and low-stakes evening at the theatre.

The feats of strength the dancers exhibit over the course of the show are incredible. It is so rare to see men dance en pointe and it is refreshing to see the dusty norms of small dainty women and toned muscly men dancing the same stories over and over rejected. To have the gender roles reversed could have been enough, but the Trocks also make an attempt at comedy. The comedy is where it falls apart. To have the punchline of physical gaffs (falls, graceless posture, accidental height differences) you have to have a pretty rugged set-up (that all these dancers are completely in control) which unfortunately just isn’t the case. For example, in the ensemble dances during Swan Lake, one dancer plays the comedic relief, getting things wrong left right and centre. But it isn’t relief because all the other dancers are getting things wrong too. It is hard to poke fun of the rigid grace of ballet when there is no rigid grace there to be made fun of. Ballet dancers are known for making it look easy, The Trocks made it look very, very hard.

The production itself is sweet, performed over swappable pantomime sets, with matching pantomime lighting by Erika Johnson. The costumes by Ken Busbin and Jeffrey Sturdivant shine, beautiful feathered and sparkling tu-tus that ground us into the form we are supposed to be laughing at. The stand-out performance of the night is by Takaomi Yoshino as Vavara Laptopova as The Queen of The Swans. Yoshino brings a real elegance and charm to the role. Robert Carter as Olga Supphozova also has a wonderful mid-show dance as The Dying Swan who is moulting their feathers. They command the stage and their comedic timing is excellent.

It is difficult to tell exactly who this show is for. For a drag act it lacked any edge that usually comes along with Queer performance, for a family friendly show there are a distinct lack of children in the audience, for an in-joke about the ballet scene it may have been better of an amusing opening number to an otherwise more serious show. The Trocks clearly have a legacy and bucket loads of potential; the show could be a stand-out if only we could trust that they are in control.

Runs until  22 October 2022 on tour until the 29 October 2022 | Image:

The Reviews Hub Score

Punchline Ballet Lacking Set-Up

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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