|Far from the Madding Crowd, by BRB, at Birmingham Hippodrome – Seven magazine review|
|Life & Entertainment - Performing Arts|
|Written by news desk - telegraph.co.ukm|
Thomas Hardy’s novel, Far from the Madding Crowd, makes for a handsome, funny and largely enjoyable night at the ballet
Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd has a fair amount of ballet meat on it. The heroine’s three very different lovers – yeoman, soldier, gentleman – invite a variety of pairwork, and the “rustic chorus” offers any number of pretexts for yokel ensembles (ones indeed that make the more refined harvesters in Ashton's Fille Mal Gardée look like a fête champêtre).
In Birmingham Royal Ballet's revival, Hayden Griffin’s skeletal tithe barn is handsome and versatile, and Mark Jonathan’s lighting evokes moods and seasons with tremendous subtlety. Paul Reade’s score is an attractive blend of traditional melodies and original composition, but unfortunately it doesn’t really have the musical muscle to carry us through Hardy’s soapier plot twists.
Troy’s slobbering over Fanny Robin’s corpse and subsequent dance with his stillborn child are face-palmingly funny – even without last Thursday’s moustache malfunction.
David Bintley’s 1996 ballet remains lumpen and literal in places, but his original duets have been tweaked to highlight the qualities that Bathsheba brings out in her three lovers – and she is now given a suitably MacMillanesque seeing-to by the body-thrilling Sergeant Troy at the close of Act One.
Natasha Oughtred makes a fluent and engaging heroine, while Jamie Bond all but stole the ballet in the old Terence Stamp role – his surprise reappearance as a circus Dick Turpin on an ingenious horse-bicycle earning a spontaneous round of applause from a packed and happy house.