20-24 May 2014
Reviewed by Hilary Whates
I think it’s best to be honest. A visit to the ballet isn’t normally top of my list. There is no reason for that – it just hasn’t been on my radar very often. Having said that I have seen the Northern Ballet some years ago – so was aware of their original and exciting approach to delivering their work.
My review therefore is based not on an in-depth prior experience of this type of production but rather how this particular evening and genre made me feel.
Enthralled, bewitched, astounded, enchanted!
From the very first moment you enter the auditorium where the dancers can be seen warming-up on stage and engaged in their own little worlds, the magic begins. As their rehearsal of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ unfolds the twists and turns of the tangled love stories take shape with quarrelling lovers and even the love struck carpenter, the shambling Nick Bottom, smitten by Hippolyta, trying to win her attention. With such dazzling dancing and facial expression it is clear that no words are required to communicate entirely emotions, relationships and comedy.
The somewhat disastrous rehearsal over the scene changes first to King’s Cross Railway Station and then all are on board a sleeper train – The Flying Scotsman no less – on their way to Edinburgh. The set design (by the ingenious Duncan Haylor) for this part of the production was just so incredibly clever – triggering applause of surprise and delight from the audience. So the journey begins – the train moves towards a tunnel and transports the ensemble to their dreamlike destination – not a forest on this occasion!
Act two presents us with a new stage set – suspended beds which lower at will and Theseus transformed into a helmeted video game. The superb costumes in this act were just so beautiful that I have decided to throw my entire wardrobe away and only have fairy and butterfly dresses – they were just gorgeous (I might need to lose two stone and learn how to touch my toes too though to do them justice). The dancing was breath-taking and utterly entrancing. I loved it all but I really do have to mention Pippa Moore as Helena in her hot pursuit of Demetrious (Tobias Batley). Both were superb but her facial expressions and fantastic comic timing were just hilarious which alongside brilliant dancing made their performance totally spellbinding.
In the final act the train arrives at its destination, the performance is a triumph and each of the reconciled lovers share the joy of their engagement with the rest of the company.
Mention must be made of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Nathan Fifield who plays so delightfully throughout the production Mendelssohn’s overture and incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream alongside pieces by Prokofiev and Brahms – all detailed in the excellent accompanying programme.
The wonderful evening just flew by. An ingenious and truly fabulous interpretation of a well-loved Shakespeare play.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is showing at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday May 24. Performances are at 7.30pm each evening plus there are matinees at 2.30pm on Thursday and Saturday. Tickets cost from £13.90 to £40.40 plus a £2.85 transaction fee.
For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 8717652.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Central Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK9 3NZ