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Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet triple bill at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s regular triple bills over the last quarter-century have been the perfect opportunity for this first class company to give audiences an in-depth glimpse of their ingenuity and versatility plus the wide range of their repertoire.

Birmingham Royal Ballet. Pic: Roy Smiljanic
Birmingham Royal Ballet. Pic: Roy Smiljanic

This latest programme of new works, created with assistance from a wide range of sponsors, follows that golden rule closely.

The evening’s first offering, Jessica Lang’s Lyric Pieces to piano music by Edward Grieg, played by maestro Jonathan Higgins, was revealed as a perfect opportunity for this elegant choreographer to explore the wide potential and beauty of the human body.

Here, on Nicola Pearce’s subtly-lit stage, we saw a gallery of spectacularly elegant set pieces utilising stage props and scenery of concertina’d black craft paper that became back-drops, barriers and enclosures in a fascinating twenty-six minute arc exploring a kaleidoscopic range of movement and human emotion.

Next item on the menu, the world premiere of Didy Veldman’s Sense of Time suffered perhaps only by comparison with Lang’s effortless dramatic effects, but ultimately appeared unoriginal and at times banal.

The metaphor of a giant crumbling wall of suitcases on stage seemed to hamper rather than stimulate audience imagination, despite the marvellously starry cast which included BRB favourites Celine Gittens and Brandon Lawrence.

The programming of the evening’s final offering, Ruth Brill’s choreographic retelling of traditional European children’s tale Peter and the Wolf seemed even stranger to be topping a bill before an audience consisting of mainly of very grown up adults rather than the children to whom it’s traditionally been offered.

The narrator’s voice-over seemed to add even more confusion to the general balletic quality of the whole endeavour, and if this was merely included to show the wide range of BRB’s repertoire it misjudged its mark badly despite including in its cast BRB stars Mathias Dingman as the Wolf and Samara Downs as the Cat.

A curious back to front evening here, but next week look out for the masterpiece that is David Bintley’s Hobson’s Choice.  

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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