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Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Sylvia @ Birmingham Hippodrome

Just occasionally a show comes along that’s so wonderful you want to shout it out loud, and this is truly the case with David Bintley’s revival of Sylvia.

Gaylene Cummerfield as Diana. Pic: Roy Smiljanic

Gaylene Cummerfield as Diana. Pic: Roy Smiljanic

With a marvellous, famous score by that prettiest of composers Delibes and a story that heads straight for pure entertainment of the most sophisticated kind Birmingham Royal Ballet have a blockbuster hit on their hands here which they can revive again and again.

Sylvia opens with the showbizzy start to a grand midsummer party (think High Society meets La Dolce Vita) where sexual intrigue’s the main party fare. But Eros, God of Love, (a marvellously good-humoured Mathias Dingman) just happens to be working there in disguise as a humble gardener (it’s that kind of story). Annoyed at the toffs’ decadent antics he decides to teach them a lesson about love by taking them on a fantasy journey into the world of classic myth, where all mayhem breaks loose almost at once.

If this all sounds a tad heavy, it’s not. It’s beautiful, balletic, touchingly silly, deeply moving, and very, very funny.

Stand-out performances include Tyrone Singleton’s gymnastic tour de force as the over-sexed Orion and Joseph Caley as the touching, blinded young lover Amynta – his series of solo variations in the last act declaring him a genuine star.

The performances of Kit Holder and Lachlan Monaghan alone are worth the price of admission for their exquisite portrayal of the classical world’s campest fauns channelling, amongst other things, Wilson, Kepple and Betty.

But on this evening a new star was born, and it was Momoko Hirata who was simply a revelation as The Governess who becomes Sylvia, her whole performance demonstrating this almost impossibly technical art at its most perfect.

I’d gladly see this lovely Sylvia again tomorrow.

Sylvia Runs until Saturday (June 27). For tickets phone the box office on 0844 338 5000 or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

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