★★★★ | Despite his reputation for romance and his wild sexual liaisons, Casanova remains a historical figure with much more to offer than just a debauched lifestyle; and it is those lesser known aspects of his life which are subject to a brand new feature length ballet. Casanova was a trainee priest, musician, writer, social climber, mathematician, prisoner, gambler, food lover and fluent in seven languages. There is much more to Casanova than there first appears and this ballet explores his life and reputation in a way which debunks the perception that he was little more than a philandering Lothario.
With striking visuals, choreographer Kenneth Tindall tells the detailed and intricate story of Casanova’s extraordinary life and manages to pack in many aspects of his life in a way which never feels rushed or forced. Using a range of techniques, Tindall brings out the best in the company with routines that range from grand, sweeping set pieces to intimate movements; all of which combine to convey the story not only efficiently, but also in an absorbing and intriguing way. On a stage flooded with golds, oranges and purples, the first act is faced paced and dramatic; which subsequently yields to a more intimate second act filled with gentile and tender routines; leading to a finale which beautifully rounds off the show.
There is an abundance of flesh on display, and the ballet does not shy away from Casanova’s sexual appetite, finding himself in the company of both men and women. In a refreshingly open way, there are scenes of sensuality between Casanova and a number of men; and the number of muscular arms, tight pecs and washboard abs on display gently, but tastefully ,nudge the production towards an edge of homoeroticism at times.
Giuliano Contadini makes the most of his characters many layers and provides what is perhaps is most rounded performance to date as the titular character and the remainder of the cast are all proficient in their multiple roles.
The production values are high, with lavish costumes and gilt edged props which reflect the sumptuousness and extravagance of the period setting. Add into that a set which creates a versatile dance space and multiple locations by the use of three pillars and a variety of forced perspectives; a stunning lighting design and an original score which is cinematic, sweeping and stirring and you have all of the elements of a very fine production.
Casanova is currently playing at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until the 1st April 2017 before visiting Norwich Theatre Royal, Milton Keynes Theatre, Cardiff New Theatre, Salford The Lowry and Sadlers Wells. Visit www.northernballet.com for full details.
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.
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