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Subject: ""Now Showing: NBT at Bradford Alhambra"" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2112
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Bruce Madmin

24-09-01, 07:47 AM (GMT)
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""Now Showing: NBT at Bradford Alhambra""
NBT premiere their new 'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Didy Veldman this week in Bradford - it opens tonight: Monday.

Please post here if you get to seen them! You don't need to give an opinion if you don't want to - lots of people are interested in casting how big the applause was etc...

Some useful links:
NBT Carmen reviews also choreographed by Veldman
All NBT reviews

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  Streetcar Premiere in 2 mins... Bruce Madmin 25-09-01 1
  RE: "Now Showing: NBT at Bradford Alhambra" Bruce Madmin 28-09-01 2
     RE: "Now Showing: NBT at Bradford Alhambra" Liz P 13-10-01 3

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Bruce Madmin

25-09-01, 08:27 AM (GMT)
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1. "Streetcar Premiere in 2 mins..."
In response to message #0
   I have 2 minutes for some brief initial thoughts on the Premiere in Bradford last night...

If you liked Carmen you will probably like this - same good inventive dance (not strictly ballet of course) and the story in the 1st act flows so well with v strong acting. Second act is a little confused - need to see again, but with some rather interesting dream/mad scenes. The plot is not wholly given away in the programme... this may or may not be a good idea. Lovely designs by Es Devlin - modern and yet timelessly set in a hot tenement where perspectives rapidly change. NBT seem back in the grove after Great Expectations and Jekyll & Hyde. Be interesting to see how David Nixon, the new AD, changes that groove...

do excuse even more typos than normal!

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Bruce Madmin

28-09-01, 07:10 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: "Now Showing: NBT at Bradford Alhambra""
In response to message #0
   Company: Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT)
What: A Streetcar Named Desire

Where: Bradford, Alhambra
When: 22.9.2001

In short...
Strong Story, brilliant design, atmospheric score (part electronic) and wining choreography. It should help restore NBT's good name with its audience, though like Carmen the lack of pointe work may annoy the odd diehard.

NBT have been struggling a bit of late without settled artistic management to lead them for nearly 3 years. Their new productions - Great Expectations and Jekyll and Hyde - have not been particularly liked by either the audience or critics. However a new Artistic Director, David Nixon, has just arrived and now Streetcar materialises using the same creative team of Didy Veldman and Patricia Doyle who delivered Carmen, the companies last new piece that was a success.

As I drove up to Bradford I was hoping that with this new seasons opening they would be turning a corner and be heading for pleasanter times...

"A man, his wife, and her sister become involved in a steamy triangle in New Orleans". So says the opening description of the film at http://www.homevideos.com/revclas/30.htm and I'm not one to disagree! The original film - of which I've only seen parts - is considered a major classic staring as it did Vivian Leigh and Marlon Brando and based on Tennessee Williams legendary play.

The NBT programme gives some of the context and plot but purposefully (like a detective story) does not give the whole game away and perhaps neither should we. The story revolves around Blanche, an attractive loose cannon of a woman, her married sister Stella and Stanley the husband. It's set in New Orleans, its hot, sex is omnipresent and Blanch and Stanley come to both hate and love each other, while the innocent Stella does her best to believe in all of them and keep the family straight. Act 1 is a reasonably straight story telling whereas act 2 is much more about the mind and memory. It's powerful, heady stuff.

Design, Sets and Costumes
Es Devlin has done a grand job of creating a hot cheap tenement block feel. The walls are thin - to the point of being semi-transparent and pipes, electric cables stray wherever for cheapness - there are not aesthetics here. No space... few secrets...

The set moves to give different perspectives and at times the bathroom or bedroom is centre stage rather than the living room / kitchen. The costumes are realistic except in the second act when we get a plethora of demented images - psychedelic, spiders...

Devlin also did God's Plenty, the Rambert piece based on the Canterbury Tales, and I see I called them as "Stunning" at the time. Lez Brotherston is a name you often swear by for design and I think Devlin is at the start of creating a similar reputation.

I much enjoyed Veldman's Carmen - no pointe shoes on a such a singularly 'pointee' company worked because the dancers really punched home the story and Veldman's movement is so human. Streetcar follows is in the same tradition and Act 1 is littered with solo's and pdd that echo the torment, confusion, hate and sassy love. I really enjoy the flowing and free nature of Veldman's work especially in pdd where she seems to work on 3 or 4 different physical levels in the twinkling of an eye. Is a graceful but real movement a bit away from what can be the sweetness of some ballet. I don't think I saw though anything quite as good as the bedroom pdd from Carmen. In the other hand I greatly enjoyed some of the dream inventions in Act 2 and the corps coming on as spiders was a very neat and clever image that lingers.

Three dancers dominated Charlotte Talbot (Blanche), Fiona Wallis (Stella), and Jonathan Ollivier (Stanley). Talbot is sexy and dreamy by turns but this is a massive role that will take a while for her to fully unlock - more to come yet I think. I was though very impressed by Wallis who is a strong and naturalistic Stella. Ollivier as her husband was sweatily convincing enough, but most woman in the audience seemed only to be lusting after his body - tall, dark, handsome and mussily slim it was often to be seen without the benefit of a top. I hate him of course! Overall I've seen NBT field slightly stronger casts but it was pretty fine and in the oft performing it will get very strong.

Does it work?
Worth the trip from London to Bradford and back again on the night... look forward to seeing it again too.

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Liz P

13-10-01, 07:36 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: "Now Showing: NBT at Bradford Alhambra""
In response to message #2
   I've just been to see NBT at Nottingham this afternoon. Almost didn't go after reading the various press coverage in last week's postings. Anyway, really glad I went as I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. My bench-mark is trying to imagine the performance through the eyes of someone new to dance, and you could tell by the audience's reaction that this was a great success. You could tell at the interval that people were thrilled by the physicality of it and that this was a new experience for many. I enjoyed it far more than I remember enjoying NBT's Carmen, although I wasn't so sure about the strait-jackets at the end! The one thing that made me giggle was when Blanche walked down the stairs and she looked just like Patsy out of Abs Fabs arriving at Eddie's flat-can't believe none of the critics commented on it! I particularly love all the parts reminiscent of West Side Story with the men and the portrayal of Eunice the neighbour who was brilliant.

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