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REVIEW - Rambert's Peaky Blinders is powerful, emotional and exhilarating throughout!

On Tuesday, we went to the The Lowry in Salford to see Rambert's Peaky Blinders. Read what our reviewer, Julie Wilson had to say about this brilliant production...

Peaky Blinders brought to the stage with the power of dance by the creator Steven Knight and choreographer Benoit Swan Pouffer was worth the full house standing ovation.

I could not imagine how they would fit six series into just under 2 hours and to portray such a successful period crime drama with dance, but it certainly did not disappoint. It was powerful, emotional and exhilarating throughout.

The opening scenes set in the WW1 trenches begin the backstory for the troubled Tommy Shelby and the running theme of this wartime trauma sets up the story throughout.
There are some wonderful ensemble scenes from smoky streets to glitzy nightclubs and even a day at the races with the use of carousel horses. The first half is fast paced with very physical dance which carried so much power into each scene. The second half plays out the recurring dreams and opium fuelled days of Tommy which although slower in pace were certainly powerful, emotional and effective right to the end.

The recurring theme tune of Peaky Blinders (red right hand) was very powerful, particularly when combined with the sharp, simultaneous choreography of the cast.
The choreography by Beniut Swan Pouffer powerfully conveyed the different themes and emotions of the characters, particularly Tommy Shelbys grief and loss over losing his wife, Grace and the fight scenes between the Peaky Blinders and rival gangs.

Polly Gray (played by Simone Damberg Wurtz) and Tommy Shelby (played by Guillaume Queau) were particularly captivating. Simone accurately conveyed the powerful and confident nature of Polly Gray through her demeanour and the way she danced.

Similarly, Guillaume who played Tommy captured his confidence but also his vulnerability. It was difficult not to see Guillaume as Cillian Murphy and Simone as Helen McCrory and I had to remind myself it was in fact the extremely talented Rambert Dance company.

Naya Lovell performance of Grace although less innocent as the original tv series character was powerful and sensual as she entered the stage as a nightclub singer dressed in green velvet.
The costumes by Richard Gellar of the peaky Blinders closely replicated the costumes from the series even including the 'razors’ in the flat caps. The lavish costumes for dancers in the Eden club transported us back to the 1920s. Of particular note was the cursed gypsy necklace placed around Grace’s neck before she was shot and killed. The incorporation of that necklace into choreography to convey Tommy Shelby’s grief was very effective.

The choreography throughout the performance was diverse and varied which kept the audience very interested. In order to convey the interactions between the police and the peaky blinders, dancers dressed in leather as dogs, handled by ‘police officers on a leash were effective to convey a police chase.
The lighting (Natasha Chivers) of the performance was also very effective, particularly when conveying the dark and dismal streets of Birmingham just after WW1. The yellow lighting, akin to a sunset was also very effective to demonstrate the recurring presence of Grace in Tommy’s mind, even after her death.

The live 3-piece band placed above the stage kept the momentum of the fast-changing scenes from WW1 trenches, opium dens to the mass brawls along with the striking and captivating scenes by Moi Tran. The stage was divided with a ditch which dancers would move in and out of added to the slick changing of scenes.
Not to forget the voiceover by Benjamin Zephaniah which helped to move the story forward and create the iconic dark theme of this powerful drama series.
I am not sure that I will be able to hear Nick Caves ‘Red Right Hand’ without visualising the movement of the whole cast upon the stage. This was a first experience for myself to see contemporary dance bringing a serious dark crime series to life, it certainly did not disappoint, and I will be following the Rambert dance company anticipating their next performance!


Rambert's Peaky Blinders is on at The Lowry until Saturday 18th March.


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