The Trocks, as they’re affectionately known to their hordes of devotees, travel the world constantly only showing up in Britain every three or four years so there’s a high demand for tickets when they do make one of their rare appearances in Birmingham.
If you’re not sure what the Trocks are, they’re a ballet company, but with a difference. They’re all men, especially the ballerinas. So what you are in fact seeing is a very superior kind of drag, because they’re all without exception superb, really outstanding dancers, but their stock in trade is that they send up ballet sky-high and do all the things you’ve secretly thought could go wrong on stage.
So they’re bitchy, upstaging, overacting, accident prone, but always, always technically superb, in fact better than many of the other touring companies anywhere in the world. Their hallmark is superb finish. The result is pure laugh-out-loud comedy, allied to a truly startlingly accomplished spectacle.
The first part of the evening set the tone beautifully with the Swan Lake from hell with every mishap and truly disgraceful piece of overacting firmly on display.
Next came a send up of Balanchine’s plotless but pure style in which the cast ties itself into impossible seeming knots and then (mostly) manages to get out of them. Then a very funny and horribly accurate send up of a modern dance piece with a score played on paper bags and things that made plinking noises which was not very far away from a very serious real piece I had seen myself only a few weeks earlier.
Then the legendary Dying Swan in which a (very) ageing and moth-eaten ballerina shedding feathers to the very end makes her interminable farewell performance.
But for me the climax of the evening was literally its crowning glory and outshone a lot of the things I’ve seen this year, as the cast gave a potted version of one of the most technically difficult of all classical ballets, Don Quixote which is very rarely performed probably for that reason. And they played it almost straight!
Of course they couldn’t resist sending it up, like introducing a complete cartwheel into the heroine’s already spectacular final pas de deux at the most technically demanding moment, but this was pure ballet clear and simple, proving that you really can have your cake and eat it. A stunning night out, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
The lady sitting next to me had been bought the tickets by her daughter-in-law as a present and had no idea what she was going to see. She was on her feet clapping and shouting at the end – I reckon she’ll be back to see the dear Trocks next time they visit us again.
Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo complete their visit to the Hippodrome with a matinee and evening performance today (November 11).
For tickets call the Box Office on 0844 338 5000 or go online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com.