Depart

Images from nationalcircus.tumblr.com, theblueoblique.com and www.liftfestival.com.

Images from nationalcircus.tumblr.com, theblueoblique.com and http://www.liftfestival.com.

Georgina Perrott reviews Depart, a part of LIFT festival which took place at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park between June 16th and June 26th. Circa are a internationally acclaimed circus company from Australia. 


Amidst the architecture of crumbling, sunken graves framed by tendrils of ivy, wild garlic and gnarled trees reaching skyward, a group of people have gathered to bear witness to a plethora of ethereal performances submerged in the Victorian cemetery. Placing their trust in hosts carrying lanterns to light their path, they follow strangers into the unknown, perhaps symbolic of the unknown nature of life and death. Some hesitate, holding back at junctions to wait for the people they came with, whilst others boldly tread the muddy paths, brushing branches out of their way, eager to see the next mortals in incandescent costume.

“Depart with care…”

It is not often that a performance concerned with death can make us feel so alive, however walking along the winding trails of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park to the sounds of haunting choirs and the droplets of rain falling through the trees, the senses are awakened. The audience relax into the new environment that Circa and Lift Festival have created. The couple, who at the beginning were reluctant to leave each other’s sides, slowly forget that the other is there as they watch dancers twirl from ropes in the trees above them. The family so concerned with rustling rain ponchos from their entrance into the wood, are spell-bound by a man who spins a large hoop fully under his control; their rustles becoming a part of the sound score. This is a work that tunes in to the senses of the individual, rendering them silent and open to their environment by the end of the work.

“…walk with silence…”

Each performance includes an element of suspense; dancers suspended from trees, from poles, and in hoops. It creates a feeling of magic at play in the woods, and as we journey on through the dark, turning left and right but never looking back, it feels as though we are suspended in time, or perhaps a different world to that of which we know.

Despite the feeling of light and hope, that the piece evokes in an audience expecting to be scared witless, there are darker moments that remind us that we are still in a place of the dead. One performance culminates in a dancer hanging rigidly from her feet, revolving eerily as the audience must walk past to continue the trail. The sharp, weighty dynamic in which she falls consolidating the finality we feel as it happens. Another moment sees a dancer, suspended by straps from her feet and her mouth,  turning wildly, exhausting the movement until it becomes too much effort. Compared to the stillness of the graves lit up below her, she does not seem to be resting in peace, but rather just restless.

Still taken from Depart Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3BefANwzP4

Still taken from Depart Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3BefANwzP4

“…stay with the group…”

I must admit now that this review is of a different nature to others I have written. This is because over the last couple of weeks I have been one in a group of people volunteering to guide the audience for five performances. Having seen the various elements of the performance five times, I have had time to digest and reflect on them, and I have seen different versions due to weather – Circa were prepared for a British summer. Writing this I have realised that the audience were part of the performance themselves, and that each audience member will have experienced the show differently. Moments where people interacted held the most significance; whether that be a performer taking the hand of an audience member and leading them through the crowd, or two strangers in the audience making eye contact, silently acknowledging the beauty of what they were seeing.

As the natural light fades the audience become quieter, and as the finale approaches the paths have become so dark that the audience must keep up with the strangers in front of them or face losing their way. As my group lurches from the darkness, the yellow illuminations of guiding lanterns can be seen in the distance. As we near a cross-road in the path, there are quiet gasps at the coincidental meeting of three audience groups at the same time. The groups merge and become a mass of bodies walking towards a bright flood light that welcomes them to the big clearing in which a long raised stage is adorned by the spectral performers they have met along their journey.

“…do not look back.”

The finale is an occasion of beauty, in many senses of the word, for beauty is hard to define or pin down.  Circa are beautiful in the moments that cause breath to catch in my chest. Dancers are thrown high into the air and caught in outstretched positions; buoyant in the arms of a man, standing on the shoulders of a man, who stood on the shoulders of a third man below him. This is as close to flying as we will get with out the aid of industrial propellers. They are beautiful in the moments of symbolic simplicity; a whole line of dancers trying to see through another’s hands, left us questioning what they are looking for. Perhaps they are each looking for something different, as each of us do in our own lives. Perhaps it is a physical representation of not knowing what lays before us, but also not looking back.

Depart is an experience, more so than many performances watched from the theatre stalls. The audience become performers, they make their own choices, based on feelings they are made to feel from the performers and the environment. As well as seeing and hearing the intended components of the performance, such as the haunting sounds of the shrouded choir, and hypnotic, skilled circus performances; they are exposed to other elements. The sounds of birds in the trees, of the DLR shuttling by, of squelching mud, the smell of wet ground and wild garlic, and the touch of someone’s coat against their hand, or of a stinging nettle against their shins. Overwhelmed with assurances of life in a place supposedly occupied by death, Circa‘s power is in their ability to make us aware of the smaller nuances of life, whilst allowing us to gawk in wonder at their skill and grace.


As this is a contemplation of my own experience as part of Depart, I cannot leave out the fact that a number of people with great minds, vision and experience came together to create Depart. Having experienced the show five times, I have realised that there is something about togetherness – the performers and the audience experiencing something magical simultaneously, the audience relying on strangers to guide them through the dark, and an appreciation of those people, the beautiful surroundings and the work that has been put in.

In a time where the country seems divided I would like to recognise the importance of togetherness, of making sure the people around you know that they are valued and safe. Having met and worked with a number of the team, I would like to acknowledge the value of its diversity. It is important to realise the importance of valuing difference in backgrounds and experiences, especially at a time when there are groups of people aiming to quell those differences.

 

 

 

 

Saying “O Yes!” to Jamie Wood’s O No!

jAMIE WOOD


Images from: vilearts.blogspot.com, assembly festival.com, exuentmagazine.com

Georgina Perrott reviews Jamie Wood’s one man show O No! at The Showroom                         Thursday 3rd March 2016


 

Jamie Wood’s O No! is an invitation to laugh until your belly aches. Wood robed in a floaty kimono invites any one who will come, to participate in his sense of joy humour and hilarity. He invites us to laugh until we cry, to let go of our inhibitions, and to make funny noises. Throughout the performance his passion for life shines through; it is a passion that bursts free and warms up the audience gently, until eventually half of them are stood on stage with him, gladly making fools of ourselves by playing kazoos, banging drain pipes and honking horns.

A myriad of items hang around the stage; a small book, a blue tie-dyed sheet and three white balloons. Their meaning or intention is unclear for a while, but all is revealed as Wood progresses through the performance revealing himself and his thoughts about love and life in the process. Wood’s explanation of love seems simple; we hold hands, we connect as an audience, love is all around us and everyone is involved. However he demonstrates instructions from the small hanging  book which is Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit, supposedly making some performance art. Reading from this book, Wood encourages some bizarre situations – in one instance this involves the lights being turned off giving the audience a chance to touch each other if they so wished. The instructions from the suspended book put the audience in situations involving some degree of intimacy, and at once the simple idea of love that Wood represents is complicated. The exercises make us explore our relationships with complete strangers, provoking an evaluation of our closer relationships. We are lead to question what intimacy is and does it have to be with someone we know.

Wood sits on an exercise ball in a dress as people from the audience approach him one at a time with a pair of scissors. Having been invited to cut his clothing and take a piece, members of the audience laugh as they struggle with left-handedness and blunt scissors; whilst a rather confident young man laughs mischievously as he cuts a hole around Wood’s nipple. The rest of the audience show their appreciation of the boys boldness with “woops!” of joy and laughter. Wood cannot hold back as smile as three left-handed boys struggle with the scissors, and it is refreshing to see someone bring part of themselves to the stage. This section of the performance begs the question, ‘how many men does it take to cut the sleeve of a dress?’ The answer is three.

It is the choices of the audience that make this experience interesting, enjoyable, and alive. Wood gives his audience the chance to follow or to question and either way he is ready for their response, armed with his wit, to shape the situation to suit his own creation. Wood is a narrator, director, choreographer and performer all at once. It is his charm and ease in front of an audience that made people willing to co-operate with his demonstrations of silliness.

Wood wishes to do the bag performance, which involves two people getting into a bag, removing their clothes and then putting them back on. He shows us the bag and himself, and it isn’t long until his expectant face and patiently raised eyebrows have someone volunteering to get naked with him in a bag. They get in the bag (which is in fact a duvet cover) and the bag billows and ripples as hands and elbows flail as they undress quickly. The quip “are you going to leave your socks on?” in an incredulous tone prompts a laugh from an eager audience.

Once they have their clothes on they sit down in the duvet cover and turn on a torch. Their hunched over bodies create a tent like shape and the scene is completed by their silhouettes in the bag. Wood asks his volunteer a series of questions about his experiences of love and it becomes abundantly clear that this moment is more intimate than when they were nude in the bag. The boy’s story was touching; yes he was in love, had been for years, and no, it was not returned. It was beautiful to hear someone be so honest in front of so many people. Needless to say the boy’s emergence from the bag warranted a large round of applause.

The rest of the performance followed the same vein getting bigger and crazier as the evening drew to a close. The performance culminated in a group performance that required almost half of the audience; the stage adorned by people playing kazoos, singing and Wood himself playing a saw like a violin, felt like what you would imagine Wood’s imagination to look like – a glimpse inside the clever mind of a born entertainer. As the three balloons popped signalling the end of the performance, the audience were left on a high. The nature of this performance is that it will never be seen in exactly the same way again, but the beauty of the show is that each person’s experience of Wood’s O No! is as unique as he is.

 

Female Choreography Is Valuable

for women in choreography

 

Photos from: bigdance.org.uk, twitter.com/jvcompany and londondance.com

 

Georgina Perrott considers leading choreographer, Akram Khan’s statement that female choreography should not be commissioned just for the sake of having more women choreographers.

———————————————————————-

The dance world is full of women. Go into any dance school, dance studio, dance company and you are likely to find women dancing their hearts out across the room, or sprawled on the floor next to a bottle of water and a nature valley bar recharging after a hard class. However as you start to look further up the ladder the number of sweaty women dissipate and make way for the men.

Recently Akram Khan has stated that female choreographers should not be commissioned ‘just for the sake of it’, and has since released a letter of apology to those in the industry and those who follow it. Despite this letter of apology, that can evoke some empathy in a reader for a man whose words have been taken out of context, his words alone are worrying. Akram Khan said;

“We should be aware of it and see what is going wrong, but at the same time I don’t want to say we should have more female choreographers for the sake of having more female choreographers.” Akram Khan, (see reference 1)

It is true that there are many smaller companies choreographed and directed by women that are commissioned to make work, but often to do this they must commit to working with the community in order to give more than the work they create to society. Although it is brilliant that dance companies are using the power of the arts to help those in the community, top male choreographers are not asked to do this alongside their work. Whilst smaller companies have to divide their time between providing the community with dance work and creating, rehearsing, teaching and performing, male choreographers such as Akram Khan, Hofesh Schecter and Wayne McGregor can spend their time solely creating.

Yes, their work is valuable. Yes, it exposes contemporary dance to wider audiences, but it is worrying that whilst men are speaking to these audiences there is a gap in which women are not having their voices heard. The dance that makes it on stage and is seen by many should represent our society, not just a select few. Just as art should reflect the world in which we live, dance works should represent different genders, races and ages. The world would be boring if we were all the same, and although the work of these male choreographers is not boring, the dance scene would be enriched by a variety of works. Women perceive the world in a different way to men, and therefore may have something different to say. Shouldn’t choreography and art challenge our views, norms and the way we experience our world?

The point has been made that women dominated the foray into modern dance with practitioners such as Martha Graham, Pina Baush, Isadora Duncan leading the way. It is true that the people we acknowledge most when considering the creation of Modern dance are women; but perhaps women created Modern dance so that they could lead something that represented them better than ballet that was directed by men. Perhaps Modern dance gave them space to get down from their pointe shoes and appreciate the weight they could use. Perhaps it was something that they could claim as their own before the gender balanced pioneers of Post-Modern dance paved the way to where we are now. We could be on the cusp of experiencing a gender balance in the dance world again; I hope so.

It is common knowledge that there are less men training in dance than women, which seems strange considering that men hold the majority of places in dance direction and choreography in the most well known arena of contemporary dance. It is important to question how this gender imbalance has happened and continues to happen. As someone who has trained in dance in higher education I know that it is a common assumption that when accepting applicants for universities men will be chosen over women who are just as, if not more talented than they are. This is understandable as men are needed in dance and potential cannot be dismissed, however when this continues to the point that men have more opportunities than women in leading dance, how can it be considered fair.

Akram Khan is correct in his statement that untalented female choreographers should not be chosen over talented male choreographers but after experiencing the valuable work of female choreographers who are working now, it is an untruth to say that there is no female talent available. There is a place for female choreographers and somehow opportunities for them must be found or given without losing the work of men. I am sad to find that without realising I have only written about work choreographed by men for these reviews. Possibly this proves that most of the work in bigger venues of London is by men; however I am taking this as my chance to right some wrongs and write about the work of female choreographers – I know that I have seen plenty of valuable works by women, and have even performed in some, I just need to write about it. So whilst I shall continue to write about the valuable work of men, I shall make a conscious effort to promote the work of equally talented women.

References:

  1. Snow, G. [online]  (2016) Akram Khan, ‘Don’t have more female choreographers for the sake of it’. The Stage. Available from: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2016/akram-khan-dont-have-more-female-choreographers-for-the-sake-of-it/ [accessed: 25/01/2016]

BLACKOUTS – Twilight of the Idols

Images from: londoncalling.com, brightondome.org and beigeuk.com

Images from: londoncalling.com, brightondome.org and beigeuk.com

Georgina Perrott reviews Dickie Beau’s Blackouts at the Showroom, Chichester on 24th of September 2015.


Dickie Beau first enters the stage wearing white face paint, white gloves and a black suit and there is anticipation for something eerie to occur. Antiques are placed around the stage; a rotary dial telephone, a desk and type writer, a pile of suitcases, all alluding to images of an enigmatic past. Black and white scenes from The Wizard of Oz (1939), and pin up images of Marilyn Monroe projected on to a gauze throughout add to the vintage quality of the performance.

Put aside Dickie Beau’s seamless lip-syncing ability and you are left with an extraordinarily articulate man, who uses the shoulders and hands more expressively than most people do in real life. In one moment Dickie Beau pulls from his mouth a long reel of paper, dispensing it with the smoothness of a receipt printer that never stops. His arms hurriedly move to pull it out so that he can read from the end of it, as the words on the voiceover repeat like a broken record. His shoulders shift constantly throughout this moment, causing him to appear at one moment like a machine, and at another like a pained human being.

His expressive qualities convey the grief hidden behind the recordings of his idols Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland. The performance reveals a lot about being and identity in the context of two stars hounded by the media. Dickie Beau leads us through a series of images that reflect how the two stars were never left alone to just be, considering how identity can rely so much on other people. The fragmented way in which Dickie Beau moves his limbs alludes to the idea that these women who he idolises were machines wound too tightly by fame’s demands that they simply broke.

After changing into a silky white dress, and a blonde wig, Beau stands on a podium and as his lip syncing speeds up the podium begins to turn. As it turns his upper body moves as if it is mechanic, his arms jolting to and fro as he revolves. He is reminiscent of a ballerina figurine in a jewellery box perpetually spinning until the box is closed. A crescendo in the music signals the end of this moment, as a wind machine causes Dickie Beau’s skirt to fly up, recreating the famous image of Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1955).

image from: cambridge-news.co.uk

image from: cambridge-news.co.uk

For almost the entirety of the performance, the audience are separated from the performer by a gauze half way upstage which feels like watching through a television screen. When Dickie Beau tears through the gauze, wielding a knife as Judy Garland in a frenzied outburst, he unexpectedly intrudes into our distanced reality. After this frightful outpouring the pigtailed, bespangled shoed Garland is brought to a halt by her lines from The Wizard of Oz. Beau retreats back through the gauze with a stooped back and hunched shoulders, like a child feeling shame at a silly tantrum. A silence ensues like the stillness after a rainstorm, when the sun returns to illuminate the world. Everything that lead up to this becomes clear; I am devastated by the words that seemed blasé, but paired with the frowned creases in Beau’s face, become a sad biography.

Watching Dickie Beau feels personal; the feeling you got as a child when you listened behind the door to a conversation between your parents that you weren’t meant to hear. At the same time you are compelled to listen, to see the sad truth behind the words of women struggling to be strong. At the beginning of the performance Marilyn Monroe’s voice spoke about wanting to go home rather than perform; Dickie Beau’s audience however, were left spellbound not wanting to leave.

A Full House for The Opening Night of Swan Lake

from st-petersburg-ballet.com

from st-petersburg-ballet.com

Georgina Perrott reviews St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s ‘Swan Lake’, London Coliseum, 13th August 2015. 


You could truly feel the buzz of apprehension amongst the audience in the London Coliseum as they awaited the conductor, Tim Gorkovenko’s entrance to begin the ballet. Excited no doubt to hear and see St Petersburg Ballet Theatre perform Petipa and Ivanov’s ‘Swan Lake’, one of the most renowned classical ballet’s of all time. The ballet was punctuated with the audience’s rapturous applause as well known sections such as the Cygnet’s dance and magnificanet solo’s were performed by principal dancer, Irina Kolesnikova.

Kolesnikova stole the show with her insightful portrayal of the kind and vulnerable Odette, with her sinewy arms and expressive back, her raw emotions of sorrow and longing could be felt as far up as the balcony. As she performed a dizzying number of pirouettes one after another, when she played the bewitching Odile , the music got faster and the audience’s clapping preceded the moment she finished with a flourish of the arms to a perfect cadence in Tchaikovsky’s score. At this moment the audience erupted, as Kolesnikova gracefully bowed accepting the audience’s praise.

Also to be praised was Sergei Fedorkov who danced the part of the Jester. He had just he right amount of jest so as the be funny but not so funny as to distract from the other happenings, and he kept the audience entertained with his impressive stag leaps and travelling bounds across the stage. Every time he entered from the wings he truly put on a show.

Irina Kolesnikova as Odile.  from www.express.co.uk

Irina Kolesnikova as Odile.
from http://www.express.co.uk

The cast were somewhat nervous for their opening night, and Mikhail Tkachuk, who played one in the Pas de Trois, revealed his nerves with some heavy landings and his blinkered focus on just the technical steps rather than allowing character to seep through his performance. There were a few mistakes made by other dancers too, but overall their nervousness did not let the show down; if anything it lets the audience into a secret… that these dancers, who can perform the quickest petit allegro routines, and long extensions of flexible legs, are also humans who falter sometimes.

Denis Rodkin, unsure at first as he played Prince Seyfried, grew in confidence as his performances of magnificent jumps and soft landings grew broader and more expansive until he had embodied the character, and mirrored Odette’s solo performances.

Lack of personality was certainly not to be found in Dmitry Akulinin, whose portrayal of Rothbart was truly evil. Whenever he grasped his hands around Odette’s waist to lift her, the audience may have recoiled an inch back into their seats in disgust at the clear depiction of evil over innocence.

The section with the four little swans was awaited eagerly by the Coliseum as the audience clapped so heartily when their number holding hands with plenty a pas de chat had finished. Perhaps because the music is so popularly known, or perhaps because the dancers performed the tricky petit allegro with such grand technical ability.

The orchestra was divine, and to be especially noted is the performance of the single oboe which played over and over again the haunting, well known melody of Tchaicovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’. The set was simplistic and the lighting was done very well, especially for such an emotional show that cannot be too darkly lit as there is so much choreography for the corps de ballet.

As the ballet finished it was lovely to hear the audience shouting a well deserved bravo, and to see flowers scattered on to the stage in appreciation of Kolesnikova’s performance, and it was a performance to be truly appreciated.

Be Bewitched By Baila Brazil!

Picture from Baila-brazil.com

Picture from Baila-brazil.com

Georgina Perrott reviews Bale de Rua’s ‘Baila Brazil’ at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 8th August 2015. 


Before the curtain rose, shouts could be heard in Spanish. The only word I could understand is “Capoeira!”, a dance form come martial art that originated amongst Brazilian Slaves and is now a widely practised dance form. Baila Brazil delivered both the carnival and the solemn history of Brazil to the Royal Festival Hall.

The authentically Brazilian percussion, music and powerful singing certainly set the scene of Brazil’s rich cultural heritage, as did the set which consisted of a minimal two storey scaffold that looked powerful when coloured lighting from behind created silhouettes of the dancers come percussionists on the balcony. The drums pounded rhythmically through each number giving the work a definitive pace, and making audience want to move as the sound of loud drums really does get the adrenaline going.

The voice of the lone female singer, sets the atmosphere for each number, which does change dramatically for a section reflecting Brazil’s history in slavery, with the addition of metal basins on stage, perhaps a reference to the fact that sometimes slaves were sold for a variety of items including metal basins. Even without knowing this, or Brazil’s history of slavery, it is still made clear to the audience that this section is a lot more serious and sad than the previous and latter sections.

from theguardian.com

from theguardian.com

The cast of fourteen wore a variety of colourful costumes, that got smaller and smaller until the athletic male form was at its most apparent, showing off the muscular men in black and red shorts, as they showed off their acrobatic, hip hop and breaking moves under five spotlights. The audience ooo-ed and ah-ed as they winced at the break neck moves of the competitive dancers, displayed much like a street dance battle, except more choreographed, referencing Bale de Rua’s street origins.

The audience weren’t quite prepared for the dancers to request for them to sing along, and what’s more sing back to them. The audience perhaps needed longer to get into the party mood and let their inhibitions go, which was proved when the audience stood up and danced as Bale de Rua performed encore after encore, and came out to dance with the audience. The audience were fully involved in this unexpected and improvised moment.

Overall it was worth paying £10 for a perfectly good seat through lastminute.com in order to witness this Brazilian party of parties, and the brilliant skill of the dancers and musicians alike. Bale de Rua, keep bringing the party to London.

Five Secrets to Having the Best Night at the Royal Opera House

Most people think it costs a bomb to see anything at the Royal Opera House, but tickets can often cost as low as £4 and no matter what your ticket costs, you are guaranteed to be treated like royalty. So I reveal ways to have a brilliant night at Covent Gardens royal venue.


1. If you book early you can often find great seats at low prices.

Their on-line booking system has lots of perks to give an insight into what kind of view you are getting (read more about this here). I have sat in seats for a variety of prices from £4 to £16 and each has been a wonderful evenings. Admittedly some seats have their downfalls, such as a standing ticket, or having part of the stage blocked, however they still have their merits. If you have a standing ticket you can often sit on the floor or at the bars during the intervals giving your feet a rest. If part of the stage is blocked there is often a lot going on on both sides of the stage and you notice details you perhaps wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. I managed to get a brilliant view for £16 to see Peter Pan (read the review here). If you don’t manage to book early, there is always the chance that people return their tickets, so keep refreshing the online page to see if anything comes up.

My fantastic view from Balcony Left C 28 for £16

My fantastic view from Balcony Left C 28 for £16

2. Get there early to have a walk round.

Based in Convent Garden the Royal Opera House and it’s surroundings are beautiful and buzzing with life. If you get there early you don’t have to rush and can wander round Covent Garden Market, maybe grabbing a snack or drink, or seeing the street performers that make themselves at home in the piazza outside of the Royal Opera House. A number of surprises hide in the Opera House itself. Once you have picked up your ticket you can take the stairs or lift to the Paul Hamlyn Bar, which is situated in a large glass conservatory. Even if you aren’t going to purchase a drink or pre-order food for the interval (although looking delicious, they are quite pricey) it is still worth a visit as it is beautiful. From here you can also take the escalator up to the amphitheatre bar which features a balcony that looks over Covent Garden, another beautiful sight to take in.

Paul Hamlyn Hall and view from ROH balcony

Paul Hamlyn Hall and view from ROH balcony

3. Take some of your own treats.

I have seen people take in cooler bags with champagne into some theatres, and even get out their own plastic cups, so some people really do prepare. However, that much preparation is not needed, you can just grab some treats of your choice from the local supermarket (there’s a sainsburys local by Charing Cross station). Bear in mind though that these treats are not for during the performance, they are strictly for the interval, no-one wants to hear sweet packets rustling at the theatre, it isn’t the cinema.

from melleum.com

from melleum.com

4. Take someone with you…

It’s really great to be able  to share a special evening with someone. You can talk about the show during the interval and after, discussing the parts you enjoyed the most, and the bits that stuck out the most. Making your way there together gives you and your theatre companion a chance to catch up before the show, and then you could perhaps grab a drink together afterwards to discuss the merits of the show.

from theguardian.com

from theguardian.com

5. …Or don’t.

You could always go by yourself. There’s that one good and reasonably priced seat left, but there’s only one. Don’t give up on seeing the performance, just go alone. It doesn’t make the evening less enjoyable, in fact in some ways it is more freeing. You only have to think about yourself, you don’t have to worry if your companion is having a good time. It also means that more often than not you end up talking to other theatre goers that you may not have otherwise. Alone it is still a worth while experience.

from fastcodedesign.com

from fastcodedesign.com

Reasons to Adore Booking Online With the Royal Opera House

With a theatre that has such a rounded auditorium with tiers that slope inwards towards the stage, and so many columns in the seating area, it can be hard to tell what sort of view you are going to get, especially whilst trying to save money on your ticket.

The Royal Opera Houses website makes choosing a seat incredibly easy with an interactive, easy to click, colour co-ordinated system. Even better, once you click on a seat, the description is very detailed, describing the view, accessibility and even what your seat will be like in terms of comfort.

roh book

Not only is the description detailed, but some ingenious person of the Royal Opera House team has taken the time to sit in every seat and photograph the view of the stage from your seat as well as the seat or standing area that will be yours for the performance.

This is brilliant because you will have a good idea of what you will be getting for your money.

Check out their website and see if you can bag a good deal for a ballet or opera! 

Fly to the Opera for Peter Pan

pictures from gettyimages.com and birminghamhippodrome.com

pictures from gettyimages.com and birminghamhippodrome.com

Georgina Perrott reviews the Welsh National Opera’s Peter Pan at the Royal Opera House on the 25th July 2015


Before the lights of the auditorium go down, the audience are greeted with a large wrapped present centre stage that is tied with a large red bow. The beginning of the opera ensues with maids meeting in the middle to tear at the present’s wrapping, as if to symbolise that the Welsh National Opera (WNO) is gifting us their version of J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan, and what a gift it is too!

The set is a treat in itself as it constantly changes, with maids pushing beds and workmen moving walls and clocks there is never a dull set change as the stage bustles with a multitude of people running to and fro. At the front of the stage runs a curved train track finishing at either side with an arched doorway appearing to be a tunnel, along this track runs wagons, with accountants at desks, train carriages, larger than life letter building block toys, and when the pirates appear a group of shark fins that induced a chuckle from the audience. If this alone cannot capture the imagination of any person trying to relive a tale from their childhood, then frankly what can?

both from gettyimages.com

both from gettyimages.com

Introduced to the three siblings naughtily playing games when they should be in bed, the audience can immediately tell their relationship to each other; the boys against Wendy, and all three of them conspiring against the adults as Wendy tries to prove herself as more than “Just a girl” as Micheal repeatedly sings to her. As they play tricks on their parents, scatty Mrs Darling ( Hilary Summers) wails her lines in despair at her naughty children, and the caricature of a busy, no nonsense Father takes the form of Mr Darling (Ashley Holland) at the brunt of their jokes, with his self-important, grouchy voice.

 from birminghampost.com

from birminghampost.com

Nana (Aidan Smith) dressed in a fluffy one piece with floppy ears, provides a bit of doggy humour; never has there been such a sophisticated and almighty “woof” as the bellow of Aidan Smith which made the audience guffaw together as such a cohort.

Marie Arnet shone out from the rest of her cast as she played a Wendy that wasn’t always good, but always in possession of a good heart. Her voice could have been just listened to without watching as she performed a wonderful solo lamenting the loss of her home and parents, perhaps a sign to children never to leave home. This lilting solo was followed by a sad revelation by Peter Pan (Iestyn Morris) who prior to his sad story had been soaring through the air with such ease, it left the audience wondering how a man in ripped, baggy, silky shorts could still be seen as the coolest boy in Neverland.

The music, although not the most relaxing and probably not one to listen to without the addition of the stage action, was highly textured and intriguing, inspiring curiosity amongst the audience. The ticking sound – more than just a tick tock – was played expertly by the percussionist as each scene changed, reminding the audience of the passing of time. There was hardly a dull moment, as the Chorus numbers provided boosts keeping the scenes moving from one to another.

When retelling the story of Peter Pan there is no way to leave out the details that seem impossible without ridding the story of its magic, so it was interesting to see how WNO would portray these elements. The shadow moment was done spectacularly well with a black fabric cut out of Peter’s shadow, which stretched when he stood on both feet and pulled in an attempt to stick the shadow back on.

from the guardian

from the guardian

A pirate ship without water was achieved with a wonderful transformation of a float with a ship’s wheel, ladders, complete with masks, sails, and rigging that Pan climbed for his final and victorious attack on Captain Hook. It made for an imaginative 3D set that made the battle scene more exciting.

The flying scenes were done seamlessly, we saw the wires, but we didn’t notice when they were clipped or unclipped. The children flew as you would expect their characters to fly and Pan’s flying was just effortless, especially when compared with the slapstick comedy that lead the Darling children to fall from the sky during the Wendy bird scene.

from bbc.co.uk

from bbc.co.uk

The one moment that had the audience on the edge of their seats was when Tinkerbell swallowed Hook’s poison and needed the audience to clap to bring her back to life. Peter Pan asked for noise, and conditioned into being silent for the opera, the auditorium was unsure as to whether to clap for this Opera bordering on Pantomime moment. After a moment of silence, as if by magic the audience began to clap simultaneously.

The opera ended with the children’s homecoming greeted by overjoyed parents, that would leave even a child most enchanted with the idea of Neverland, never wanting to be ‘free from mother, free from father‘ and leaving the audience satisfied with a retelling of a story that warms the heart and left us clapping in congratulations of the talents of WNO.

Reasons to Watch an Opera or Ballet at the London Coliseum

When you are really desperate to see a show and are trying to pick the best seat from the remaining tickets, or if you are trying to save money but are baffled by the on-line seating plan it is difficult to have faith in the seat you have chosen until you get to the theatre and are either happily surprised or mildly disappointed. Here I have composed a list of reasons why sitting in the balcony can be a good choice at the London Coliseum.

From unrealitymag.com The stress of choosing a seat for a theatre you've never been to.

From unrealitymag.com
The stress of choosing a seat for a theatre you’ve never been to.

  1. The Balcony, Upper Circle and Dress Circle are not as rounded as other similar venues. This means that even if you are sitting in seats to the very far right or left of centre you are likely to be able to see most or all of the stage.

    From a postcard in 1904 - www.arthurlloyd.co.uk

    From a postcard in 1904 – http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk

  2. The Balcony seats are steeply raked, meaning that the height of the person in front of you is (most likely) not going to be a problem. However, if you are up in the top half of the balcony seats I can imagine that you may miss out on the set design that might adorn the top of the proscenium arch.

    www.slate.com Photo by Jovo Marjanovic/iStockphoto/Thinkstock

    http://www.slate.com Photo by Jovo Marjanovic/iStockphoto/Thinkstock

  3. The interior is absolutely beautiful, Roman inspired, sitting on the balcony you can take snaps of the lavishly decorated auditorium complete with sculptures of lion drawn chariots which are level with the seats in the balcony. The dome in the ceiling is also beautiful and a must see part of the architecture by FrankMatcham.

  4. Prices for seats in the balcony, range from £10 to £25, with a selection of seats in the upper circle priced at £20 or £25. These prices were based on a visiting performance by the Dutch National Ballet of Cinderella (read the Seen From The Gods review) however prices for other productions should be similar.

  5. There is the option of paying £20 for a “secret seat” which is a win/win situation. You pay for the seat in advance without knowing which seat you will be allocated. You will not end up with a seat worth less than what you paid for, but have good chances of winning a better seat. In the end, you are most likely to be given a seat that is worth £25 and may even end up in the stalls or dress circle! A viable option for someone who doesn’t mind a bargain or a gamble.
    From MrCellophane13.wordpress.com

    From MrCellophane13.wordpress.com

    The London Coliseum's interior

    My view from balcony F4