June 21, 2017
BRB’s latest enticingly varied triple bill turns out to be a delightful gourmet-taster menu.
First off comes the new Arcadia by company member Ruth Brill to a score by John Harle. Brill takes us to the very dawn of time with a pan-social population of vibrant entities, the whole scenario very après L’apres-midi, processing through three main movements to a celebratory finale. In the vibrant young cast, Brandon Lawrence exuded puckish animal magnetism as Pan while Céline Gittens shone as Selene, Goddess of the Moon. The whole ballet is modishly upbeat and inclusively celebratory. An interesting piece and an excellent opener. I look forward to seeing more from Brill.
The evening’s second item, Michael Corder’s Le Baiser de la fée, to Stravinsky’s score of the same title, is total charm; a pocket three-act epic evoking the golden age of classicism with a slender fairytale story – think Cinderella/Sleeping Beauty but with the whole super-grand classicism of the Petipa/Tchaikovsky behemoths reduced to 40 minutes.
No charming detail is left undemonstrated, the antique atmosphere decadently suggested by exquisite solos, enchanting ensemble work, with magical atmospheres throughout thanks to the captivating twilit landscapes and candlelight gilded enclosures of John F. McFarlane’s designs and Paul Constable’s lighting. Joseph Caley excelled even in this star cast as The Young Man while Jenna Roberts was deliciously decadent as The Fairy and Momoko Hirata lovely as her alter-ego, The Bride.
But the gilded topsail of the evening was John Cranko’s marvellous comedy, Pineapple Poll, with its rumbustious Arthur Sullivan score; a Regency valentine of a story set in the Royal Navy’s home, Portsmouth. Here the ladies of the town follow their sweethearts on board ship disguised en travestie as sailors to produce perhaps the most exquisite, delightful and charming one-act ballet in the whole of BRB’s extensive repertoire. Osbert Lancaster’s perfect pastiche designs employ a palette of colours not seen since the 1820s while the entire production is crammed with delightful character detail. Mathias Dingman was wonderfully zesty as the jack the lad of all time, Captain Belaye of HMS Hot Cross Bun while Nao Sakuma swapped her usual regal elegance for the laugh-out-loud vulgarity of Bumboat Woman Pineapple Poll.
A thrilling climax to a delightful evening.
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Three Short Story Ballets runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 24 June. For tickets phone the Box Office on 0844 338 5000 or go online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com.