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The Prince of the Pagodas

Music by Benjamin Britten

Birmingham Royal Ballet

The Lowry, 1 February 2014

Momoko Hirata as Princess Belle Sakura and Joseph Caley as the Salamander Prince.  Photo: Richard Battye

Momoko Hirata as Princess Belle Sakura and Joseph Caley as the Salamander Prince. Photo: Richard Battye

A magical ballet full of wondrous atmosphere and scary scenes – and not only for children.

Momoko Hirata excelled as the princess, her delicate dance in act two a highlight.  Britten’s score more than passed muster, the moments of percussion, such as  the King of the South’s dance (played and performed by Tyrone Singleton) and the eruption of the Salamander Prince (Joseph Caley) into the imperial court being particularly fine.  The evil Empress (Elisha Willis) was enticing and the mock fighting between Emperor and kings exciting.

Monsters are messengers and stand on the threshold of becoming; they’re not to be feared.  One of these monsters even looked kind of cute, like a big chick.

On the downside, the key event (a supposed death) happens beforehand, so the narrative would be difficult to follow if you didn’t have a programme in front of you.  Also, the relationship between prince and princess seemed pretty dodgy: brother and sister, their dance rather suggested a romance…

The Prince of the Pagodas is touring up until the end of March.  Further details are here.

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