Northern Ballet: Victoria at Milton Keynes Theatre





To translate written diaries into a ballet, which is both
captivating and beautiful, is an achievement and Cathy Marston has done just
that. The audience is spell bound by Beatrice (Pippa Moore) reliving the life
of her Mother, Queen Victoria (Abigail Prudames). As Beatrice peruses the
diaries – and censors many pages not to her liking - the most enthralling
episodes of Victoria’s life emerge – among others Victoria’s relationship with
her mother and Sir John Conroy, with Albert (Joseph Taylor) and with John Brown
(Mlindi Kulashe). And the ballet moves backward in time from a sombre present
to a lighter, youthful past and with this passing of time 
the audience sees the many positives of
Victoria’s life.



Physically the young Victoria is striking – her power
revealed by her poses – wide arms and legs - and her height is raised by her
being en pointe. 
She is strong and vital
and to the sound of bells gives birth nine times. Young Victoria contrasts
strongly with the posture of the older woman - grief in widowhood, her
reluctance to allow her daughter to marry, her imperious bestowing of widow’s
weeds to Beatrice on the death of Liko.



Many scenes include the young Beatrice – excellently
danced by Miki Akuta. The young Beatrice intervenes physically in the intimate
relationship between the ghillie, John Brown, and her mother, so a pas de deux
becomes a pas de trois. And in the 
romance scenes between Liko and Beatrice, the older Beatrice
delightfully mimics her younger self .The movements of Victoria and John are
more stately befitting the characters’ ages and are a clear contrast to the
passion and fire of Albert and Victoria’s movements in Act 2 ( which lead to
energetic diary censorship by Beatrice!). The wedding night dancing is sensual
and provocative and involves one of the few props of colour on the stage – a
pink divan.


Happily these personal relationships rather than history
dominate the ballet – we are shown the conferring of the title of Empress of
India and 
the conflict between Victoria
and Albert over his participation in the handling of the ‘red boxes’ but many
characters appear and disappear without much trace  - who was the suitor before Albert appeared?


The set is simple – in the first act many bookcases to
hold the many diaries; in the second windows to give a lighter ambience.
Perfect lighting changes the mood from sombre to light. And Philip Feeney’s
original score is exceptional 
- but it
is the ability of Cathy Marston to make the story of Victoria come alive
without a word being spoken which is true genius.


 

Victoria is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 4th
May


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