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BRB - Far from the Madding Crowd


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I wonder if anyone else is going/has been to see this? I have just returned from fitting in a visit to the Hippodrome in between business. What a great evening's entertainment.

 

Apologies again for the poor reviewing, but the story flowed, the characterisations were excellent, the dancing superb, the sets seamlessly reflecting the scenes they portray. I enjoyed the humour (including a three legged Kit Holder), the pathos and it's always good to see roles I could imagine my son doing - as leads or in the corps.

 

Elisha Willis, Joseph Caley, Iain Mackay and Matthew Lawrence were all super in the leads.

 

if you are in the WM - get a ticket before they all go.

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I'm seeing it tonight. IMO, it's one of several BRB ballets that doesn't get performed anywhere near often enough. My fav bits are Dick Turpin and the very sexy sword play pdd.

 

Some years ago, Glynis Barnes-Mellish painted Leticia Muller and Michael O'Hare in rehearsal for Far From The Madding Crowd. I have prints on my wall, and jolly nice thay are too! If you click the link to her site http://www.barnesmel.../gallery/prints, you can see the two pictures. They are the first and fifth in the thumbnail list to the right.

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All credit to Birmingham Royal Ballet, particularly its corps. Absent for around a decade, David Bintley’s Far from the madding crowd emerged for just a handful of performances looking fresh, danced with precision and energy.

 

Much as I love Thomas Hardy’s novels I do find his yokels a trial. They are ever present in Bintley too, first cousins to Massine’s eccentrics, always eager to indulge in another jolly knees up.

 

The tangle of Bathsheba and the three men in her life is compressed into short sections, which has the impact of making the story more melodramatic than it really is. But cleverly Bintley runs different threads together. Fanny Robin’s collapse is juxtaposed with the harvest storm. At the circus, unseen by them, we see Troy’s reaction to discovering Bathsheba and Boldwood together. But too often the danced set pieces – the wedding party, the harvest supper, the Dick Turpin spoof – dominate at the expense of the characters.

 

Hard to see much character in Elisha Willis’ Bathsheba – but perhaps that is the point. She could be anything that her suitors wanted her to be. Of these, Iain Mackay gave real depth to Troy, making him more than the shallow charlatan he is. If I were Kevin O’Hare I would be casting Mackay as Onegin and in Mayerling next season, such was the dramatic force of his acting and dancing.

 

In comparison, the other men made less impression. Matthew Lawrence was a subtle, troubled Boldwood but Joseph Caley was a laddish Oak, too young to have the moral weight that Hardy depicts. I am not convinced by the framing device of Bathsheba and Oak, where first he is rejected then later accepted by her. The effect was sentimental.

 

Carol-Anne Millar was luxury casting as the euphemistically labelled “garrison woman,” skilfully manipulated by William Bracewell and Feargus Campbell.

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Well Far from the Madding Crowd has been and gone in the blink of an eye. We've waited the best part of 10 years for this revival and I sincerely hope we won't have to wait another 10 years to see it again.

 

I tried really hard to read the novel when David Bintley first created this work in 1997, but I never managed more than the first nine pages. I've not seen the film either. This means that I don't have any preconceived ideas other than the memories of previous wonderful performances. I really enjoy all the rustic scenes - David Bintley has such a knack of giving every single person an individual character. The set and lighting is absolutely gorgeous, very evocative of the rustic setting.

 

We saw 2 top notch casts (Elisha Willis, Iain Mackay, Joe Caley, Matthew Lawrence; Natasha Oughtred, Jamie Bond, Matthias Dingman, Tyrone Singleton). How different the dynamic between them and how great it was to see the two different interpretations. No wonder we go over and over again!

 

Iain Mackay was an incredibly powerful Troy - you could quite see how Great Britian conquered so much of the known world! He was a real rogue but I felt that he had had genuine feeling for Fanny Robin and was absolutely devastated by her death. His performance was so powerful it should have come with a health warning for the audience! Elisha Willis was terrific as his Bathsheba - particularly strong in the final scenes. Joe Caley was the solid dependable Oak - very believable.

 

In the other cast, Jamie Bond was a real cad as Troy, quite vicious. Again, I felt he really had feeling for Fanny. Tyrone Singleton really got under the skin as Boldwood and looked positively deranged in Acts 2 and 3; his obsession with Bathsheba was very obvious. Matthias Dingman performed Oak with sincerity and intelligence. He gave me two exquisite, spine-tingling moments - the first was when he was busking and he realised that Bathsheba had seen him and he was mortified. The second was in the final seconds when Bathsheba has run to him and he very slowly wrapped her in his arms. The look of bliss that came on his face was incredibly moving; a moment to savour for ever. Natasha Oughtred gave her all to the role of Bathsheba and I think it is the best I have seen her perform (and I am a fan anyway).

 

Brandon Lawrence and Tom Rogers deserve a special mention for their truly hilarious performance in the "Dick Turpin" scene. William Bracewell and Fergus Campbell were very dashing soldiers indeed and both really enjoyed themselves with the "Garrison Lady", in which role both Angel Paul and Carol-Anne Millar were scintillating.

 

Three great performances and now I am bereft that I can't see it again this coming week. BRB please don't make us wait another 10 years to see it again.....

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Absolutely - what a gem, and what Englishness, or should it be Wessex-ness, conveyed in the design, the music and the dancing. It had all the elements of a great night at BRB - passion, pathos, humour. I love BRB! Their spirit and enjoyment of their work always shines through, and this is a superb work for them. I can't imagine another company performing this so well. Elisha Willis's light-as-air girlishness in the opening scenes, hair flying, was wonderful to watch, as was the deepening of her character as the performance progressed - a wonderful and challenging role. Agree totally with the praise for Iain Mackay. Those of us who can remember the film will never forget the swordplay wooing with Terence Stamp and Julie Christie but this surpassed it.

 

The score is breathtakingly good and very clever. I don't think I have been awed by a score like that on first listening before. As I understand the composer died just as he completed it - what a loss.

A revelation and a night of utter enjoyment.

Looking forward to a Summer Celebration!

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I absolutely love David Bintley's narrative ballets and Far from the Madding Crowd was the best I have seen. It had so much content and left you with lots to think about afterwards.What a pity that the Theatre wasn't full; people don't know what they are missing. I read a comment on Twitter from Kit holder - maybe it should be called "The only way is Wessex" , that would have pulled the crowds in!

I was lucky enough to see both Casts perform this Ballet and therefore saw very different interpretations of the various roles.

I loved Jamie Bond's characterization of Sergeant Troy; so well researched, brilliantly acted and danced. I thought Natasha O's Bathsheba was probably a little softer and gentler than Thomas Hardy's Bathsheba, but as I read in one review, she was completely "irresistible" and she certainly was. Her facial expressions and smile just light up the Stage.

Did anyone else just love Matthias Dingman's Gabriel Oak? Such a mature and sensitive performance and his dancing was stunning.His gentle expressions when he looked at Bathsheba were very moving.

Another special moment for me was a little pdd between Fanny Robin ( Maureya L.) and a character danced by James Barton; just beautiful. Then James B. went on to dance the Clown in Act 3; again pefectly danced and acted with brilliant comic timing.

Just a final little mention for Brandon Lawrence; he danced various roles and is another dancer with great comedy skills in one scene, but who can be dancing a wonderful, graceful waltz in the next scene. Always a joy to watch.

I could go on and on; so many special moments in this Ballet. I do hope BRB do it again soon.

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I notice a lot of empty seats too - so I wonder if they might think touring would pay off. Such a shame. Circle half empty - with David Bintley himself sitting two rows behind us! Also sitting in the next row was Max Westwell who had such a short stay with the company last year.

Sue S - I thought it interesting you saw two casts but only described one. Did you think that was the better one?

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I also saw both casts and wouldn't have described one as better than the other. They were different.

 

I would echo Sue S' comments about the exquisite duet for Fanny Robin and a farmhand(?). It is so gentle and beautiful and Maureya and James were breath-taking in it. A sublime moment but I hadn't mentioned it in my posting.

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In answer to Sue Bretts Question; no, I didn't think the Cast I described were necessarily "better", but I did enjoy their interpretation more. I thought they were generally more expressive and therefore for me more watchable. But definitely lots of fabulous dancing from both Casts.

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