Tuesday, March 6, 2012

REVIEW: Le Songe by Les ballets de Monte-Carlo

Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, Friday March 2

This ballet interpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Jean-Christophe Maillot is a well-thought out, deliciously entertaining piece of work. Maillot tried to create parallelism not only with the play but with Shakespeare himself. While Shakespeare created three distinct groups of actors and actions (The Athenians, The Fairies, The Mechanicals), he also provided them with three distinct “languages” (blank verse, rhyme and prose accordingly). The ballet, being without the text, Maillot replaces them with three distinct dance languages executed with three distinct music (Felix Mendelssohn, Daniel Terruggi and Bertrand Maillot accordingly).

The Athenians, costumed (by Philippe Guillotel) in marble-like texture materials with their name embossed, looked by statues that came to life. With classical ballet as their dance language, the sliding in and out of couples dancing and intermingling provided a solid foundation and prevented the work becoming a physical theatre piece. The dance language for The Fairies is a bit more difficult to describe; and for the lack of better words, I would say “Fosse en pointe”. Bernice Coppieters as Titania was mesmerizing. Her Titania was strong, sexy and sensuous, which added to the frustration of Oberon; who, by the way looked nothing like the king of fairies, but instead more like a faun… I suppose “opposite attracts”! The Mechanicals’dance language was more bouffon in style and far more closer to physical theatre than dance… regardless, they were hilarious. Costume-wise, they reminded me of Cirque de Soleil.

The overall production was quite practical, cohesive, yet there’s clarity of story line. The set design by Ernest Pignon-Ernest was simple and versatile. There were a lot of small details that made the performance irresistibly charming, e.g. Puck riding a giant “love-in-idleness” flower (powered by Segway) with the pistil providing the magical juice, Bottom’s sexy ass and erotic tail and a man playing Thisbe (complete with hairy legs and pointe shoes). The performance showcased the ensemble’s ability not only to dance, but also to act and most importantly to entertain.

Le Songe
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
Creation based on the play by William Shakespeare
Premiere: 27 December, 2005 Grimaldi Forum in Monaco
With the participation of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Nicolas Brochot
and the Monte-Carlo Opera Choir
Conducted by Kristan Missirkov

Creative Team:
Choreography and Direction: Jean-Christophe Maillot
Music: Felix Mendelssohn, Daniel Teruggi, Bertrand Maillot
Scenography: Ernest Pignon-Ernest
Costumes: Philippe Guillotel
Lighting: Dominique Drillot

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