15 March 2007

Royal Ballet Triple Bill, Royal Opera House, Wednesday 14th March 2007

What a truly bizarre evening. And what a strange programme!

The first offering was “Apollo”, a very odd (but apparently now considered as a classic) piece for four dancers and a couple of hangers-on, two of whom are described as “handmaidens” but who are on for about 30 seconds in total and do very, very little, and one poor cow who sits on the top of a flight of steps going through all the motions of giving birth to the title character – balletically, of course. Interesting, if not a lot to write home about. Basically three muses – Calliope, Polyhymnia and (I think) Clio interacting with Apollo. No plot, just dancing. Odd that the woman dancing Polyhymnia was much taller than the other two muses (and a much better dancer). The programme spiel said that Apollo was the only god in the Greek canon represented in art without a beard. I would like to refer the writer to statues of Hermes! Tsk, tsk – some people really don’t know their business.

The second piece – “Children of Adam” was what I would (and did) describe as “pretentious wank” – although the chap walking in front of us down Henrietta Street afterwards obviously didn’t agree with my opinion (OK, I did say it rather loudly I suppose). He gave me a look as if I had run up beside him and pissed all down the leg of his suit while calling his mother a whore. It seemed to be the story of Cain and Abel, overlaid with some pompous references to homosexuality, with bits of “The Rite of Spring” thrown in for good measure. Nasty, nasty set – all green and brown splodges and some kind of weird “tree” with wiggly roots and branches, and one odd branch going all the way up to the top of the proscenium. Some odd flowers – apparently irises – made an appearance at one point. The garden historian in me forebears to comment. Weird “modern” choreography set to the kind of music played by the string section that Eddie Izzard described in one of his routines as “weasel, weasel, weasel”. I can’t believe people get paid to write that kind of atonal scratchy rubbish. I can play music like that on a cello given the opportunity – and I don’t play a note. Printing error in the cast list transposed the names of the two male characters and they had to make an announcement correcting this. Tsk, tsk – an administrator obviously needs to pull their socks up.

The final piece was “Theme and Variation” – a classical piece and the only bit of “real” ballet in the whole triple bill. Pretty cossies, sparkly stage tiaras, nice set of draped curtains, columns and chandeliers – but Ms. Cojucaru, dancing the lead missed out a sequence of steps at one point and finished dancing a bar and a half before the orchestra finished playing. Tsk, tsk, how standards are falling at the Royal Ballet!

Add to the fact that it seemed to be “cut price tickets for miserable old bags” night – the miserable old bag in front of us glared at me several times for having the temerity to cough, and the one behind me actually put her claw on my shoulder and physically pulled me back in my seat when I leant forward in order to see better at one point. She spent both intervals having a very pretentious conversation with two of her victims (sorry, friends) in a nasal “wah, wah wah wah wahhh” voice and I hope that somebody dropped a house on her on her way home.

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