Don Quixote by Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells

Don Quixote at Sadler's Wells: A Good-Looking Panto Ballet

Now playing at Sadler's Wells Theatre in Clerkenwell, Birmingham Royal Ballet's rendition of Don Quixote makes for light but enchanting viewing...

Lead Image: Birmingham Royal Ballet

Dance always offers something to look at, whether you understand what's going on or not. 

In the case of Don Quixote performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet and directed by company director Carlos Acosta, you do understand what was going on because a contemporary dance piece involving foodstuffs and an interpretive dance of, say, the lunar cycle, ovulation or perhaps the Tiananmen Square massacre, Don Quixote is not. 

Don Quixote by Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells

Don Quixote by Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells - Johan Persson

Rather, the ballet was as literal as pirouetting a narrative forward can be. 

So literal it wove in degrees of pantomime so that often the performance was the meeting point of gesture, mime and dance punctuated with gentle comedy and littered with hammy moments.

The ballet tells the story of Don Quixote, looking very much like Sir Lancelot, who goes on a quest. After meeting a clan of gypsies, he has a run in with a windmill and dreams of meeting the Queen of the Dryads.

Then there's Basilio and Kitri, a young couple in love to the dismay of Kitri's father, Lorenzo the bumbling innkeeper.

Instead, Lorenzo wants his daughter to wed Gamache, a 1900s toff dressed in Sponge Bob yellow and Cookie Monster blue hues. And so the couple run away.  

Naturally, all works out well in the end for Basilio and Kitri, thanks to the wandering Don Quixote. 

Don Quixote by Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells

Don Quixote by Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells - Johan Persson

It's a light story for sure and one with little conflict and drama on stage. Yet there is lots of beauty to soak up. 

Prima ballerina Momoko Hirata was a delight to watch at every turn as Kitri. Tzu-Chao Chou was joyful as Amour too. 

Act two's magic garden, filled with the Queen of the Dryads, performed by Yu Kurihara, and her entourage who were all frocked up in classic tutus, was an ephemeral, whimsical treat.

The large ensemble cast of what looked to be around 40 was a Where's Wally-like feast to gaze across despite feeling cluttered at times and the sets and costumes were impeccable.

It was very pretty show, and a spectacle to relax into and bathe in, so enjoy it. Which is what I said to the chap reading my programme at interval so he could confirm his suspicions that the company had wiggled story elements and characters around. 

What did it matter I asked, most of us have probably never read the book. 

Don Quixote is on at Sadler's Wells July 6-9. Tickets from £15.

Address: Rosebery Avenue EC1R 4TN

Website: sadlerswells.com


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