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Shakespeare Dream Bill – Theatre Royal Plymouth

Director: David Bintley
Choreographers: Jessica Lang, José Limón, Frederick Ashton
Conductor: Paul Murphy
Reviewer: Bryony Luther

This production honours Shakespeare’s works by focusing on two of his much-loved pieces Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream along with his often overlooked sonnets in a piece newly-created for Birmingham Royal Ballet.

tell-us-block_editedThe Wink uses five unconnected sonnets to create a plotless ballet that has themes of love, life and death. Each section begins with the sonnets read aloud while an evocative solo is danced in this cast by Brandon Lawrence. The majority of the sections are performed by a quartet of dancers and each section has a different tone. Near the end of the ballet, a pas de deux performed by Lawrence and Lewis Turner is wonderfully subtle and suggests ideas of love before developing into a more dynamic pas de trois. When watching the piece, it appears there are stories and ideas that on first viewing remain unclear which would only be revealed on further viewings. The minimalist set by Mimi Lien featuring several spinning screens is used effectively in the choreography and combined with the white costumes covered in

The minimalist set by Mimi Lien featuring several spinning screens is used effectively in the choreography and combined with the white costumes covered in text designed by Elaine Garlick and Suzanne Parkinson give the impression of pages of a book being turned.

Othello is one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies and the second ballet in this bill, The Moor’s Pavane, distills the ideas and themes from it into a piece that manages to crossover successfully  between ballet and modern dance. The Moor’s Friend and his wife trick The Moor into believing his wife has been unfaithful and his confrontation with her leads to a devastating end. The piece jumps between the veil of the formal court dances and the underlying passion and jealously simmering underneath. As the ballet has no set it is important that the dancers are able to convey the sense of period and strong emotions necessary to carry the story. All four dancers are perfectly cast but Tyrone Singleton as The Moor manages to effectively express both the anger and guilt necessary to make this ballet an intense chamber piece.

The Dream follows the two separate worlds within the original play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the one of the fairies and the one of the mortals. After an argument with his queen, Oberon, King of the Fairies decides to enact revenge by using a magical plant to make her fall in love with the first creature she sees. At the same time, four mortals enter the forest and mistaken identity ensues when Oberon also orders Puck to use the magical plant on Demetrius so he will fall in love with Helena. Cesar Morales’ performance as Oberon is suitably regal and his chemistry with Momoko Hirata as his queen Titania makes them an entertaining partnership. Tzu-Chao Chou as Oberon’s servant Puck is joyful and amusing with incredibly quick footwork. Comparatively to the other works in this bill The Dream is comic and light hearted which makes it the perfect end to an unforgettable production.

These three distinct pieces work together to create a fitting tribute to Shakespeare with something appealing to everyone. A great production for new ballet fans and old alike, it is a thrilling way to start the final week of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s season celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare.

Runs until 26 October 2016 | Image: Birmingham Royal Ballet

 

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