Saturday, 9 July 2022

Croeso i Ŵyl Dream

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Ballet Cymru Dream Theatr Clwyd 28 May 2022 19:30 and Lichfield Cathedral 8 July 2022 19:30

The words "Croeso i Ŵyl Dream" were projected onto the wall of Lichfield cathedral last night.  They mean "Welcome to the Dream Festival".  An announcer introduced Darius James and Amy Doughty's Dream as part of the Lichfield Festival's Shakespeare celebration. 

The more one studies A Midsummer Night's Dream the more one finds layers of meaning.  Sometimes it takes a derivative work to reveal those hidden layers.  At first sight, Shakespeare's comedy contains multiple unconnected plots but in fact,. the quarrel between Titania and Oberon, the lovers in the woods, the mechanicals' play and indeed Pyramus and Thisbe are connected. They show the border between reality and the magical, or, if you prefer, the imagination, to be a shadowy one.   The choreographers revealed that interconnection in many ways from the casting of Isobel Holland and Robbie Moorcroft as Hermia's mum and dad as well as Titania and Oberon to their ingenious use of Frank Moon's score and Chris Illingworth's lighting and projections.

James and Doughty are not the first choreographers to transpose A Midsummer Night's Dream to dance.  Frederick Ashton,  Jean-Christophe Maillot, David Nixon and Arthur Pita have all created work that had been inspired by the play,  However, James and Doughty are perhaps the first to tell the full story of the play in all its complexity.  They seem to have revisited Shakespeare's text and created a libretto that summarizes every essential.   As Mendelsohn's score would have limited their opportunity to do that they commissioned a new score from Moon.   They did very much the same in Cinderella and that is perhaps their unique contribution to choreography.

Their summary was not a dry and slavish transposition.   They inserted their own humour like the puppy dog pose to represent Helena's infatuation and the space suit and balloon to indicate the man in the moon,  Indeed, just as the fitting of the slipper is the funniest part of James and Doughty's Cinderella, the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe stole the show.   A mop turned into a lion's mane, a dustbin lid transformed into a breastplate and a collage of cereal packets representing bricks on a wall were hilarious. touches.

Although several of my favourite artists in Ballet Cymru seem to have left Ballet Cymru the company retains plenty of talent left.  Moorcroft and Holland performed their roles as king and queen of the fairies regally and as Hermia's parents tenderly.  The super-talented Beth Meadway brought Helena to life in a way that I have never seen before.  I shall be reminded of Meadway whenever I see the play again regardless of medium.   Sanea Singh was an excellent Puck, Kotone Sugiyama an adorable Hermia, and Jacob Hornsey a memorable Bottom.  Caitlin Jones created a new character Lysandia imaginatively,  I also congratulate  Jacob Myers, Samuel Banks and Jethro Paine for their performances as Moth, Cobweb and Mustard Seed, particularly for their mocking adulation of Bottom while he was still a donkey.

Shows often grow as they tour the country and I think that has happened with Dream.   It was already a good show when I saw it in Mold on 29 May but it was even better yesterday.   Darius James told me that it will be performed in Leeds in the Autumn and that he will give Powerhouse Ballet a workshop based on the ballet.   I look forward to both very much indeed.

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