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vsprs at the Abbey Theatre

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William Crawley | 17:45 UK time, Sunday, 23 April 2006

abbey_image.jpgThe curtain went up on the now annual International Dance Festival Ireland last Friday in Dublin's Abbey Theatre with "vsprs", the newest offering from Alain Platel's Les Ballets C de la B, a reworking of Monteverdi's famous Marian Vespers. I was there for the opening night and it was one of the most profoundly moving evenings of theatre I have ever experienced. It was both dance and opera; a play and a philosophical exposition on life/death, heaven/hell and madness/sanity.

It would be easy to describe the various components Platel has brought together here (baroque, jazz and gypsy music, plus ten extremely accomplished dancers), but this really would not do justice to the total effect, which is at once mesmerising, unnerving and utterly arresting.

There are two UK venues in the production's current European tour: London (Sadler's Wells, 17-20 May), and Newcastle (Theatre Royal, 23, 24 May).

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