Northern Ballet at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal: Sumptuous performance of Cleopatra

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THE story of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and her passionate love life has been immortalised most famously by Shakespeare and the film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Last week, the timeless love story was once again brought to life by Northern Ballet who put on a dazzling performance at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.

The romantic and decadent power of Egypt stands in stark contrast to the military power of Rome and we see how Mark Antony is seduced by both Cleopatra and the excesses of her country.

But the story ends in tragedy when Mark Antony is forced to take his own life following defeat by the Roman military and Cleopatra dies after being poisoned by the venom of the God Wadjet, who appears in the form of a snake and was expertly played by Kenneth Tindall.

Playing the lead role, Martha Leebolt showed strength and agility. She worked well with all of her male partners, managing to evoke the sensuality of her relationships and the authority she held in Egypt.

Her stage presence also meant she was able to perform the solo parts beautifully, creating powerful on-stage emotion. One of the most haunting moments of the performance is when Cleopatra is left alone and she has a premonition about the dangerous power Rome holds over the world.

Her physical form also stood in contrast to her handmaidens, Charmian and Iris (played by Pippa Moore and Antoinette Brooks-Daw) and Mark Antony’s wife Octavia (played by Georgina May) whose characters were altogether more dainty.

One of the most interesting relationships that was played out was the one between Cleopatra and Wadjet which took on a mystical quality.

A special mention must also go to the corps de ballet who added a rich texture to the performance.

In addition, the live orchestra, with a score by Claude-Michel Schönberg, shifted between the dramatic power of the court to the intimacy of the characters’ relationships.

For details on Northern Ballet visit www.northernballet.com. For upcoming shows visit www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk. Review by Catherine Allen