Review: Ballet Black Double Bill, York Theatre Royal, November 27

BALLET Black are a fantastic company, proving they are capable of a vast tonal range in this double bill that blends in modernity and classical disciplines with original storytelling and a fresh comedic take on Shakespeare.

Cathy Marston’s choreography in The Suit is fluid, a constant battle of movement that only increases in bitterness after Philemon (Jose Alves) discovers his wife’s infidelity. The chemistry and intimacy created between Alves and Sayaka Ichiwaka’s Matilda is carefully rendered on stage for the luxury it is, making it all the more heart-wrenching to see the former lovers reduced to an awkward side-step at a party.

Based on Can Themba’s short story, the crowded nature of the couple’s communal bathroom feels attempted through the chorus’ ongoing presence within Philemon and Matilda’s lives, but this serves more of a Greek chorus feel here than a commentary on living conditions in apartheid Sophiatown.

Contrasting vastly in tone, A Dream Within A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a playful romp that manages to offer a new take on Shakespeare’s most well-known comedy. Arthur Pita’s choreography plays with our perception of classical ballet: an array of starch-stiff tutus and revealing tights suddenly lose their gravitas when Puck (Isabela Coracy) emerges. Plunging the characters into their dream world, Coracy is in her element, flaunting the stage like a hedonistic boy scout. Among the unexpected twists and turns there is beautiful movement and a commitment to the abstract so powerful that it summons Salvador Dali. If you ever needed an introduction to ballet, start here.