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Subject: "No review of last night's Arthur anyone?" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #484
Reading Topic #484
cf

26-01-00, 01:59 PM (GMT)
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"No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
 
   Have a personal opinion from a friend who attended last night's performance but am surprised not to have anything here - yet


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? Tony Newcombe 26-01-00 1
     RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? Ann 26-01-00 2
         RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? Tony Newcombe 26-01-00 3
     Excalibur Jim 30-01-00 8
  RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? Bruce Madmin 27-01-00 4
     RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? Eugene Merrett 27-01-00 5
         RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? p.s.stammers 29-01-00 6
             RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? Molly 29-01-00 7
     RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? Bruce Madmin 30-01-00 9
         RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? alison 02-02-00 10
             RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? Bruce Madmin 02-02-00 11
                 RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone? p.s.stammers 04-02-00 12

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Tony Newcombe

26-01-00, 06:14 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #0
 
   I thoroughly enjoyed it. The first thing to say is that Camelot it "aint". Choreography, design, lighting and costumes were very good. I thought the story was told very clearly.The casting was very interesting and I thought spot on. Rather than try to go through the ballet, I will just list some of the things that made an impression on me at the time. In the first act Igraine (Sabrina Lenzi) was wearing a very tight full length black dress and my first reaction was "how are you going to dance in that". Silly thought. The opening of the skirt was skillfully hidden behind a few frills and allowed high leg extensions with no problem. Then there was the scene with Marion Tait and the three children of Igraine and Gorlois. Here we saw that Morgan Le Fay ( splendidly played by a child called Sophie Jones. ? Ballet School)was something very strange. Shades of Christina Ricci in the Adams Family. What made this scene stand out was the lighting. Swirling purple light on a star projected from overhead onto the stage. A very eerie atmosphere was created and we knew that The child Morgan Le Fay did have some sort of supernatural powers. As far as the actual dancing was concerned, I thought the various Pas de deaux for the principals were very good.
There were to me two stunning bits of pure theatre. The first was where Arthur (danced superbly by Robert Parker) was playing with a wooden sword. Merlin took the sword from him and holding it aloft it changed into a shining Excalibur. He handed it back to Arthur and as he lowered it it changed back to a wooden sword. I have not worked it out yet. The second comes towards the end of the ballet. Arthur has been seduced by Morgan Le Fay and his carrying his child. As he is explaining to Merlin, what appeared to be a very tall Morgan, heavily pregnant, enters lowers herself to the stage, lifts her skirt and delivers her child. The newly born Mordred( depicted as a naked baby with a very large head). This scene really depicted the evil surrounding Morgan and her son.
Leticia Muller as Morgan was superb. Her Pas de Deaux with Parker started off beautifully. Very lyrical and then the mood changed. Pure evil.
I should not forget Monica Zamora and Andrew Murphy as Guinevere and Lancelot. There was so much going on in the ballet. I know this all sounds a bit disjointed, but I hope it gives some idea about the ballet. The audience loved it. All the critics were there. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham. Oh! and Dowell, Park and Jeanetta Laurence.


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Ann

26-01-00, 06:31 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #1
 
   The leaflet they are sending out seems to suggest modern dress - Kalashnikov rifles, etc. Is this true? Nevertheless, I'm off to book now.


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Tony Newcombe

26-01-00, 08:00 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #2
 
   The battle scenes are a mixture of old and new. I think the theme is that nothing ever changes. Look at central and eastern europe today. Excalibur does play a big part though. The lighting of it whilst embedded in the rock and the various attempts to remove are very effective.


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Jim

30-01-00, 05:39 AM (GMT)
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8. "Excalibur"
In response to message #1
 
   > He handed it back to Arthur and as he lowered it changed back to a wooden >sword. I have not worked it out yet.

Quite simple! It was a wooden sword that was covered with kitchen foil on one side. The dancer just had to be careful which side he was exposing to the audience!


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Bruce Madmin

27-01-00, 08:54 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #0
 
   Links to 3 reviews have just go on the todays links page - the following link brings them up:

http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/481.html#6

I need to put my thoughts down in more detail but I did not warm to Arthur much. Too much story telling between too many characters and too little dance. I did not get drawn-in at all, and found even the pdd's short and un-special... or possibly I was in a despondent frame of mind by then. Good design and rather special lighting though.

I came away somewhat sad because I generally like Bintley's work (including the Edward II which used the same artistic team) and with so few substantial new works around one wants each to be a great success.


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Eugene Merrett

27-01-00, 10:43 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #4
 
   The reviews by Bruce and the D. Telegraph are bit sad. I was hoping it would be a thrilling ride like Edward 2.


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p.s.stammers

29-01-00, 11:03 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #5
 
   Having seen Arthur twice, once from high in the circle and once from the stalls, with differing casts here are some thoughts.

It is very different and different people will have differing resposes to it. It is a ballet/play with alot of narative pieces rather than pure dance. If you can obtain a copy of the programme notes to read before you see it, it will be helpful.

Alternatively try reading Mary Stewarts books on Arther starting with the Crystal Cave, they give good character insights which I found helpful.

Myself I enjoyed it, but came away drained. I am looking forward to see it again went it reaches Bradford.

It is not typical Bintley, but when does he repeat himself? The same team did Hobson and Far from the Maddening crowd, but they are different, just as this is different from Edward.

The ballet gives the best parts for corp to the men which address some of the historical imbalances where the womens corp is the more dominent.

I will try to find time over the weekend to review it more fully looking at the differing casts.


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Molly

29-01-00, 08:00 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #6
 
   Are there any reviews of the second cast? All of the ones on the links here seem to be of one cast only. psstammers-you said you saw both casts? what did you think of the second one? I would be very interested in seeing any reviews of the second cast if anyone knows where i can find some!


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Bruce Madmin

30-01-00, 09:16 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #4
 
   Well here are some longer thoughts. I don't cover details of teh production, which can be found in most other reviews.

Rightly or wrongly dramatic dance is what the public, in its broadest sense, enjoys. That, or 19th century classics (which are pretty dramatic as well of course). But to stop us all going barmy on endless Romeo and Juliet's we really need new works - actually I think we desperately need new works that will please the widest public. So full marks to BRB (for Arthur) and NBT (for Great Expectations - to be premiered on 14th February) for daring to go for the new and black stars to the others for not.

The problem with new works is that currently there are not many choreographers capable of producing full length dramatic ballets - or rather choreographers trusted to produce one. There are a number of producers who can rehash a classic or do another version of R&J, but new works are more difficult. Of course they also represent significant risk and many will not actually endure in the repertoire. But such is dance life and we have to accept that the winners we see today were actually the result of more than a few misses by the same choreographer. Much of Petipa's work is lost, and far from everything touched by Ashton and MacMillan has stood the longer test of time. And yet of course all are considered truly great choreographers.

Such were the thoughts going through my mind as I watched Arthur - on a first viewing it's not one of David Bintley's best. In fact I think it's the worst of all his full-length works (The Snow Queen, Cyrano, Sylvia, Hobson's Choice, Far from the Madding Crowd, Edward II). The main problem is simple - too little dance. Instead Bintley seems to have got immersed in telling the story with gesture, tableau and just about anything it seems but dance.

The other problem is that the legend of Arthur is only sketchily known by many of us... something about a sword, Merlin, Lancelot and Guinevere.... but that's about it for most folks. But the story, if Bintley follows it correctly, seems to feature far more characters of significance and of course characters have to interact and add 'their bit' to a story. But there seems far to much of it and one longs to end the confusion on stage, cut to the quick, and just get on with it!

It would be possible to mug-up on all things Arthurian and many fans might well do this, but the majority in the audience read the synopsis sketchily at best. Some might even remember enough of it and then hopefully go on to recognise the characters on stage. However the very best dramatic works make the plot abundantly obvious on stage and from a first seeing people - ordinary folks, rather than the ballet fans - know what is going on. On this occasion the two people behind me did not make it back after the interval and the chap in front dozed his way through much of the last act.

From a sales and marketing perspective it seems a great idea to close out the Birmingham Hippodrome's life with part 1 of a ballet and welcome it back, rebuilt and fresh, 14 months later with part 2, but it really means that Bintley has to stretch his material. I suspect making Arthur as a single piece would have made it all much more focussed and tight.

The work is sold as using the same team that delivered Edward II - a piece that was applauded by many. The designs (costumes from Jasper Conran and sets from Peter Davison) are pretty stunning and as with Edward are not strictly of their time. This suits Bintley's wider story telling and the 20th century creeps in with machine guns and video footage of screaming children. Peter Mumford's lighting deserves special mention, though I was less impressed by the John McCabe score, which really seemed to meander rather than provide strong support for dance.

I'm sad I didn't so much like Arthur - at least on this first viewing - but I applaud the fact that Bintley as Artistic Director and choreographer keeps doing new work and trying new things. He knows that in reality some things work better than others and that's the way it has always been.



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alison

02-02-00, 01:15 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #9
 
   It sounds as though people would be well-advised to watch all 2 1/2 hours or whatever of John Boorman's film "Excalibur" beforehand!


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Bruce Madmin

02-02-00, 02:07 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #10
 
   It would just scratch the surface I think - surely there must be something longer...!!


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p.s.stammers

04-02-00, 02:36 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: No review of last night's Arthur anyone?"
In response to message #11
 
   Mary Stewart's books!


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