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Theatre and Dance
David Ward appears on the poster
Trevor Gibbons reviews Hamlet by the Northern Ballet Theatre at the Grand.
The play's the thing - Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest and wordiest creation so it might not be first thing you would think off to produce as a ballet.
However, that is exactly what the Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT) have decided to do, presenting the world premiere of Hamlet in Leeds at the Grand. Even for a daring company like NBT, known for ballets with strong storylines and dramatic interpretations, it's a challenge.
So how did it succeed? I found some of the storyline hard to follow but there was no doubting the drama. The sets, by Christopher Giles, were compelling. The drab, oppressive, and downright dangerous, feel of 1940s Paris was brought to life. The monochrome setting was vividly rent from time to time by the violent red of giant Nazi swastikas hanging over the stage.
The heavy forbidding atmosphere (what else would you expect with a storyline including murder, torture and rape?) was captured perfectly. The original score by Philip Feeney is very filmic and was brilliantly played by the Northern Ballet Theatre Orchestra.
I thought that Georgina May as Ophelia took the dancing honours. Not only did she stand out from the greys and blacks of the other costumes in her purple dress but her duet with Hamlet (Christopher Hinton-Lewis) and the scene where she dances in her madness handing out a posy of small swastikas were the highlights. Another set piece dance that worked well was Hamlet's disruption of a formal dinner by his bizarre dress, manner and ironic goose-stepping across the table - a very dangerous thing in front of high-ranking nazis.
The NBT's Hamlet will leave several lasting images burnt into my memory, although personally I thought the whole ballet was not quite equal to the sum of its parts.
Hamlet at the Grand until Saturday 23 February 2008.
last updated: 21/02/2008 at 11:52
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