Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

The Night I met Queen Victoria


Northern Ballet , New Theatre Cardiff , May 21, 2019
Victoria by Northern Ballet I really did feel I had got to know the iconic ‘Empress of India’ very well by the time this wonderful evening had ended. She is presented, so often as a firm and redoubtable old lady, but here we are able to meet her in all her youthful glory as well.

Once again Philip Feeney has been able to provide the company with a sumptuous score that sweeps everything along before it. Cathy Marston’s choreography is excellent. On occasions she gives us a touch of modern dance. But in this production she is much more than the choreographer. Along with Uzma Hameed she has created a fascinating scenario and she also directs this remarkable piece of dance theatre with perfection.

She is, of course, served amazingly well by her dancers. As the queen, Abigail Prudame’s dancing is quite outstanding, she has excellent acting ability and is very able to covey every age to us.

Victoria was a great diary writer; most of the basic set is the library containing all her diaries. As her youngest daughter Beatrice, danced with grace and subtlety by Pippa Moore, reads through the books the writings come to life before our eyes.

In no way does the age of the queen inhibit her dancing. There is a lively pas de deux with her servant John Brown with dancer Gavin McCaig that gets things off to a thrilling start.

A younger Beatrice and Liko, who she is to marry are quietly observed by her older self. Miki Akula and Sean Bates express their love in dance so well much to the annoyance of her mother. The strength of this resentment, so strongly expressed, eventually destroys the marriage.

As the act draws to a close Liko has died. This gives Victoria the opportunity to clothe her daughter in black – a reflection of herself.

Early in the second half Victoria meets Albert and we do get a sense of underlying passion as they dance together. Joseph Taylor gives us a real sense of inner strength.

Victoria must also have some great inner strength to bear nine children. The on stage direction as each child arrives is very well staged. It succeeds, we smile. It could easily have slipped over into banality but Marston gives it just the right touch.

There is a large cast of daughters, husbands and politicians and some dynamic chorus dancing.
The books are bound in red. There is a lot of flashing red in the costumes. This all adds to the beauty and excitement everyone in the audience beholds.

21 – 25 May

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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