Theatre Review – Northern Ballet’s Casanova
There is much more to Casanova’s life than first meets the eye. Whilst Casanova’s reputation may well be cemented in his legendary romances, throughout his life, he was much more. An aspiring priest, musician, academic, spy, mathematician, prisoner and bon vivant, Casanova’s extraordinary life is explored in this brand new full length ballet. Without shying away from the sensual debauchery of his life, the ballet looks at Casanova’s relationships with others; and at his loves and passions that extended beyond his lavish parties and social gatherings, exposing a side of the legendary figure which is little known.
For his first full length ballet, Kenneth Tindall’s choreography is beautifully done, using the full gamut of his skills, ranging from the technically complex to the simple gesture, all of which is combined together with an absorbing richness. Of particular note was the use of repeated movements as symbolism for thoughts, ideas, concepts and characters, providing a subtle hint at an undercurrent of continuity of themes and concepts. Vacillating between the intimate and the bold, Tindall’s flow of movement and his clarity in portraying a rich, detailed and abundant narrative was wholly impressive.
With a first act which focuses on the dramatic, and a second act which focuses on the intimate, the show is well paced and bound together by the company. Giuliano Contadini puts in a highly commendable (and perhaps his most complete) performance in the title role, dominating the stage in what is a complex and multi-layered role, and as always, the entire ensemble offers committed and impressive performances. The 18th century opulence is reflected in the costumes, set and lighting and the highly stylised period is brought to life, with an excess of flesh, sensuality, violence, drama and passion.
The versatility of the set impressed, using three large columns and differing forced perspectives to create a number of locations, from the sanctity of the church, to grand halls and prison cells. Enhancing the set is a stunning lighting design by Alastair West, at times flooding the stage with purples, greens and gold, creating an opulent visual feast; before contrasting this with solitary spotlights penetrating a smoky stage. Add into that, an impressive cinematic score which perfectly complemented the visuals and proved to be just as absorbing as the on stage performances and you have a well-rounded, complete and highly competent production.
Northern Ballet has put together a piece of work which feels simultaneously traditional and contemporary; and a production which is as alluring, sumptuous, seductive and intriguing as Casanova himself.
Casanova is currently at Leeds Grand Theatre until the 18th March 2017, before touring to up to the 13th May 2017, visiting Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Sheffield Lyceum Theatre, Norwich Theatre Royal, Milton Keynes Theatre, Cardiff New Theatre, Salford The Lowry and Sadlers Wells. Visit www.northernballet.com for full details.