Theatre Royal bringing ambitious world class performances to the people of the city by virtue of the Northern Ballet.
From the curtain being drawn up the audience are brought into the regal court of King Louis XIII. Initial delicate notes rise from the Sinfonia conducted over John Pryce-Jones and lead by Geoffrey Allan before the sweeping pieces carry the emotional weight of Alexander Dumas multi-layered story with its subtle complexities with the aural beauty of Sir Malcolm Arnolds cinematic opus.
For those unfamiliar with the 19th century story, there may be a learning curve for some to understanding what is occurring. Nixon has done well to compress the complicated tale into 2 acts. d’Artagnan (Kevin Poeung) arriving in Paris, finds himself caught up with the antics of Athos, Porthos and ever the ladies man Aramis. (Nicola Gervasi, Javier Torres and Jonathan Hanks) The Kings guard, The Musketeers. Plots and secret letters. Shadowy foes. Before coming together to fend off the Red Guard in a fun exchange. Never a pause, always something in motion. This is fast and inviting storytelling. The dedication to detail in the stage direction in the large colourful ensemble scenes of multiple dancers is commendable. An impressive range of expressions between the leading soloists Hannah Bateman as Milady de Winter and Constance performed by Antoinette Brooks-Daw.
There was real heartfelt tender moments to feel between d’Artangnan and Constance as their characters develop through the powerful medium of dance. In particular, the closing finale of the first act. Ambitious solos, duos and ensembles. Junior Soloist Sean Bates stands out as Louis XIII in his scenes. Cardinal Richelieu (Mindi Kulashe) holds unfortunately little sway on stage, despite being a key character who presence is noticeable due to the deep red, yet movement minimal. Much more scenery is in motion in the second act. An inventive dungeon dance scene, where our 2 lovers are bound together taunted by Milady de Winter. Complete with letter chasing across the country. Dashing heroes. Before a climax of events, for the ball is about to begin.
Swordplay on stage, film and television very regularly draws criticism with its washy swings and poor parries. Was greatly appreciative of the effort of the performers to have gained a level of skill in their ability to wield a sword. This detail brings a refreshing new element to the ballet movement.
Many comments uttered from the stalls that The Musketeers being their first ballet. Suitably convinced this will not be their last. As the audience were swept off their feet entranced with the performances of all and gave a rapturous continued applause.
Northern Ballets “The Three Musketeers” is on at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until the 6th Oct.
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Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall