Sunday, 16 November 2014

Age of Anxiety Triple Bill

Bennet Gartside, Steven McRae, Laura Morera and Tristan Dyer in The Age of Anxiety
Photo: Bill Cooper / ROH

Ceremony of Innocence/ Age of Anxiety/ Aeternum, Royal Opera House - reviewed on 7th November

The Royal Ballet's latest triple bill combines a world premiere, a London premiere and a revival, all loosely tied together by the fact that they use music created during the 1930s and 1940s.

Liam Scarlett's The Age of Anxiety forms the centrepiece. Both its choreography and accompanying score (by Leonard Bernstein) are inspired by W. H. Auden’s 1947 poem of the same name. Three men (Steven McRae, Bennet Gartside and Tristan Dyer) and one woman (Laura Morera) form an unlikely friendship around bar stools and bottles of beer, continuing to socialise until early the next morning in the woman's apartment.

The four characters are enticingly portrayed across a range of emotions from despair to lust. Towards the end, the ballet starts to feel repetitive, but a gay subplot provides renewed interest in the final moments. The Age of Anxiety is a testament to Scarlett’s ability to create both effective narrative and interesting classical choreography onstage.

Kim Brandstrup’s Ceremony of Innocence explores lost youth. Its hints of storyline are unclear, but choreography is expressive and Jordan Tuinman’s remarkably versatile lighting design provides a fascinating backdrop. Christopher Wheeldon’s Aeternum closes the bill in style with beautiful neo-classical shapes performed effortlessly by Marianela Nuñez, Federico Bonelli and Nehemiah Kish.

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