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Rambert Dance- Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby -The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Abbie Rippon

Writer: Steven Knight CBE

Choreographer/Director: Benoit Swan Pouffer

Composer and Music Supervisor: Roman Gianarthur

The buzz at the Lowry Theatre is electric for the press performance of Rambert’s Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby. It’s a packed house, everyone waits in excited anticipation to see Rambert’s take on the story that has taken the world by storm.

Opening on the battlefield in the midst of World War One, instantly Moi Tran’s inventive set design simply but effectively sets the scene. The multi-levelled set sees the performers falling in and out of the audience’s vision, as they are thrown into trenches. From the stalls it seems as if the performers simply disappear, in this ingenious use of space and staging.

The set design works in perfect unison with the vibrant, hard hitting choreography. As the story moves forward in time into the factory, the movement is mechanical, with intricate yet industrial gesticulations setting the scene for the laborious, back breaking labour of the workers of George V’s Britain.

Blending and working together with the design and choreography, Roman Gianarthur’s soundtrack performed by a live band, brings the production together. This show is as much a rock concert as it is a contemporary dance performance. The music is loud, often aggressive; it perfectly reflects each chapter in Thomas Shelby’s story, and is performed with such verve and prowess that the movement and music feel one and the same. They complete each other.

The contact work in this production is seamless. The dancer’s bodies seem to both fuse together and repel each other in turn working together to create moments of rolling thunder or intricate desire. When a company is so in tune with each other it creates storytelling magic.

There are so many enchanting moments in this production that one could sit for an hour revelling in the virtues of each scene. A few highlights include Dylan Tedaldi’s performance as the greasy caricature of the factory foreman. A sexual predator that the audience takes great pleasure in disliking. The police dog scene is an ingenious bit of choreography, working in faultless conjunction with Richard Gellar’s costume design creating a team of howling dobermans chasing down the Peaky Blinders. The opium den in act two, sound-tracked by Radiohead’s Climbing Up the Walls also stands out as a beautifully crafted moment mingling Tran’s design of coffin like opium beds with drug fuelled choreography, it’s a desperate and ghostly chapter in this re-telling of Thomas Shelby’s story.

The entire company not only dances faultlessly with zeal and attack, but embodies the characters with a fire that brings out the gritty reality of Shelby’s story; it is difficult not to wax lyrical about every individual. Ashwarya Raut as the devastated and deadly Widow Changretta is a force to be reckoned with. Musa Motha’s performance as Barney was powerful and slick. An amputee, Motha makes this part of himself a part of Barney’s story; it is both an inspired and inspiring performance. Taking the title role, Guillaume Quéau’s performance as Thomas Shelby is breathtaking. He takes you on a journey to the edge of despair, his interpretation of Shelby is both terrifying and heartbreaking.

There is so much more that can be said about this outstanding production. It’s a dark and smokey hell hole juxtaposed with moments of glitter and sparkle. There isn’t a moment that doesn’t captivate from start to finish. Buy a ticket for two nights because you will want to see this show again

Runs until 18th March 2023 then touring

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. 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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