Theatre Review: Ballets Russes – A Stage Kindly

A Stage Kindly's most recent production Ballets Russes tells the story of the famous russian ballet company and the trials and tribulations they faced during the years preceding World War One.

The Rosemary Branch Theatre is a quaint venue tucked behind the hustle and bustle of Essex Road and although scenes of Ballets Russes were meant to be set in thousand seat opera houses the lighting and set designer made creative effort to mimic the environment. The music by David Reisser was okay, quite vibrant but very repetitive and the chords seemed to repeat themselves throughout the show with different lyrics. I would describe the style as a mix of traditional and contemporary and although this worked well with music, I felt the scenes were too short and contained too many foreign references. It is true that it would be expected for a show about the Russian Ballet to mention these long foreign names, however no attempt was made for us to understand who these people were.

As always I must praise the delightful performance from Arabella Rodrigo who played Matilda Tchessinska, and gave us a powerful rendition of ‘Intimate With The Tzar' which left me feeling in awe. Praise is also due for Frank Loman who played Serge Diaghilev and encapsulated the audience in the gay romance which only became known to the audience at the end of the performance. The rest of the cast were powerful and one aspect that shines through is the team work that A Stage Kindly presents to the audience, with such a small cast it is vital that they support each other and it is clear they do.

Director Vik Sivalingham made great effort to add a touch of dance to this piece, considering it is about the Russian Ballet, but his effort didn't do it for me and I was left feeling unfulfilled by his attempt to add ‘robotic' type movement to music theatre. On the other hand his directing was creative and the staging was kind to the space that the actor's were working in, the transitions were seamless and I felt most of the time the performance ran smoothly.

From the opinion of a drama student I would say definitely go and see a production by A Stage Kindly, the music might not be Webber and the lyrics not Rice, but the productions are different and bring a touch of the unknown to the world of musical theatre and for a tenner who's complaining?

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