Reviewed by Chelsea Wright
Firstly, The King Dances, based upon Le Ballet de la nuit from 1653, whereby the 14-year-old French King performed in an extremely lavish 12-hour ballet. The King Dances is split into four ‘watches’ exploring the hours of darkness. From the pleasures of a lavish royal evening, to the existential crises of night terrors.
The first view of the stage is that of fire, signifying the excitement of what is to come. The stage is eerie, and the dance elegant, with sound. The second watch is the first sight of the King, mesmerisingly performed by Max Maslen. The pleasures of the evening displayed through his performance with Yijing Zhang, who is absolutely breathtaking. I simply could not take my eyes off of their beauty and grace. For me, the third watch is the most exhilarating; the depiction of the night terrors of the King. Maslen’s performance of fear and dread is outstandingly convincing. The introduction of demons, fierce animals and the devil throughout this section is choreographed perfectly by David Bintley; leaving me on the edge of my seat, with gasps from the audience. The final watch, the true introduction of the Sun King, with those around paying homage to him. Throughout this performance, Tyrone Singleton plays the part of the King’s aid and of his tormentor in night terrors, he is absolutely superb! The mostly male cast pays homage to Le Roi Soleil, grandfather of ballet, in that males were prominent dancers and performers, in comparison to modern theatrical presentation. Furthermore, the music by Stephen Montague is perfection; in line with the ballet.
I would like to note that whilst the dancers were not always synchronised and steps were forgotten, it is a performance that will be in my mind for a long time.
Ignite, the second dance of the evening, in partnership with Dutch National Opera, is the choreographic representation of a painting by William Turner, The Burning of the House of Lords and Commons, 1835. The choreography by Juanjo Arqués is absolutely extraordinary! The use of rising and falling slanted mirrors in the background of the stage allowed for an alternative and distinctive view of the performance, adding further depth to the production. The use of colours throughout aided the story of the fire, and the simplicity and chaos of it all. Delia Mathews’ solo piece within this was magnificent. She is precise and holds the stage with pure elegance. For this performance, all I can say is do not miss it.
Both productions were absolutely beautiful. Birmingham Royal Ballet have produced more outstanding pieces of work here.
Tickets cost from £12.50 to £28 (booking fees may apply).
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Fire & Fury is at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 9-10 October 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.theatreroyal.com or call the box office on 01752 267222.
Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2TR | 01752 267222