Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Inala at the Wells

Sadler's Wells, London
Source Wikipedia

Inala, Sadler's Wells, 10 July 2015

Isn't it strange that you can see exactly the same show with exactly the same casts in performances just days apart and yet have two completely different experiences.  I saw Inala in Bradford on 25 June 2015 (see Inala at the Alhambra 26 June 2015). I reported that the show was met with "a standing ovation and a lot of whooping and cheering." There was nothing like that when I saw the show again in London on 10 July 2915. A lot of polite, even enthusiastic clapping but a much more restrained reception.

That does not mean that the London audience was any less appreciative. The differences in audience reactions were discussed by Marcelo Gomes in a recent question and answer session. He explained that a quiet audience in Japan is a good sign because everybody is concentrating. In Brazil it is the reverse because a contented audience would be buzzing. London audiences are very undemonstrative compared to those in the North because they think they have seen everything. .

Although I liked Inala when I saw it in Bradford I enjoyed it rather more second time round. There are a number of reasons for that. Having seen the show before I knew what to look out for. Another reason why I liked it better is that I was able to buy a programme in London and could therefore follow the show. A third reason is that I sat in the second circle in Sadler's Wells and could see the the lighting displays and the patterns of the dancing on the stage which I had missed in Bradford because they were not visible from the stalls.

As in Bradford the best part of the show was Ladysmith Black Mambazo's singing. Except for the last one where the singers waved goodbye it was quite impossible to guess the meaning of the songs because they were sung in Zulu. The advantage of the programme is that the "Score" page summarized the songs . Some of those summaries seem very strange to a modern British audience:
All those cattle I used to pay the dowry should be paid back, When will the cows come back again?
That song was answered by
"The cows will be returned. The bridge has failed. They will  be returned. All of them." 
The dancing expressed the music of each song but did not relate directly to their subject matter  and perhaps that was a missed opportunity. A ballet could have been created for each of those songs and individual dancers could have represented a character in the song.  For instance, the theme of Warmuhle Intombi is
"You are so beautiful young lady! It's time to choose the way you go and the one to be with!"
That suggests a pas de deux or perhaps a pas de trois and that may even have been what we got but my recollection of the dancing is that it was all abstract and that all the dances formed one single choreographic piece.

Although the show is marketed as a Zulu ballet it is more musical theatre than ballet. It is an opportunity to hear a beautiful style of singing which is not often heard in this country and to see some exuberant dancing. If you like that sort of thing then this show is for you. But don't go to the show expecting ballet for that is not what you will get.

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