Tuesday, April 04, 2017

I don't know the story of Casanova. Which seems incredible to me. How can a person reach the fine old age of 41 and not know the tale of the world's greatest lover? But I have and I don't so Northern Ballet's Casanova was new territory for me.
I'm very glad I read the plot summary beforehand which had come about by accident really as I had time to kill on the bus on the way to the theatre. Thank goodness I did. B S had wisely printed off the synopsis and brought it to the theatre with him. Which came in handy for young friends there encountered who were far too young to do anything so dully practical as to read the story before the show started. 
It's am elaborate twisty turny plot that was surely rendered more challenging by being conveyed in the medium of dance. But they pulled it off with aplomb. To the point where I could almost see that Casanova and his rich sponsor / lover were discussing geometric cubism. (They made lots of little squares with their hands as they danced about.)
What was incredible about the ballet though was that it was created from scratch. Well, not the story obviously but the music, choreography, set, costumes, all all all didn't exist before this. What a feat. Matthew Bourne aside, I feel (probably ignorantly) that there isn't so much of this that happens these days. Hats off to them for investing so much love and money and effort and imagination into making it happen.
And the show was a marvellous spectacle. I can't say anything technical about the choreography but it seemed like a happy blend of traditional ballet with some more modern (racier!) movements. The storytelling was wonderful. The set was sleek and slidey and artful. And the costumes were proper sumptuous. 
If I'm being critical, it's not a very emotionally engaging story as I didn't really care whether the lascivious Casanova reunited with his love or got his fleshy pleasures down on paper. But this was perhaps music to the ears of the one who's just turned out a play where you don't really care about the protagonist. (I'm working on it.) But the story is as the story was and they did as empathetic a job as could possibly be done with such debauched escapades.
For escapism and finery and spectacle and excellent music and some really wonderful dancing, seek it out. As Jim Broadbent cries partway through Baz Luhrman's wonderful Moulin Rouge, "spectacular spectacular!"
The next morning, my iPod fittingly served me the Pet Shop Boy's wonderful song, Casanova in Hell. Rufus Wainwright sings it in a particularlymarvellously dissolute way but you'll have to make do with Mr Tennant himself. None to shabby a substitute.


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