June 15, 2016
BRB’s revival of John Cranko’s 1969 creation for Stuttgart Ballet features a more modern, socially acceptable take on the plotline of the Taming of the Shrew than Shakespeare’s misogynistic original. Here Petruchio’s cynical fortune-hunting courtship comes slap up against a more contemporarily acceptable Katherina, independent and strong minded, who knows her own worth and who eventually makes a happy marriage, which in the progress of the drama becomes a recognisable contract of equals.
In the process we are treated to a series of ravishing set pieces performed by a company totally at the top of their game. This production is nothing short of a total triumph for BRB, a work of crystal-clear freshness which deserves to remain in their repertoire for a long time to come. Scene after scene alternates amusing vignettes for two or three characters with enormous set pieces featuring.
The storyline is played out in a series of delightful scenes by one of BRB’s dream casts ranging from thumbnail sketches for two or three characters to enormous set pieces featuring crowds of sumptuously decked dancers. The first night featured many favourite BRB performers including Elisha Willis, on the very brink of retirement, as the spirited Katherina and the marvellously athletic Iain Mackay as her suitor Petruchio. Chi Cao, Brandon Lawrence and Rory Mackay were most delightful as Bianca’s three exquisitely silly foppish suitors
In addition, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under Wolfgnag Heinz thrilled with its performance of Kurt-Heinz Stolze’s Scarlattti-inspired score .
Overall, a superbly realised production, featuring many favourite artistes before a warmly responsive audience, many of them regular fans of this great company.
The Taming of the Shrew runs at Birmingham Hippodrome to June 18, then at the Bristol Hippodrome from June 29-July 2.