Birmingham Hippodrome New season review Part 2.

Following on from Part 1 of the Birmingham Hippodrome New Season review, which appeared on the blog last week, today I bring you the second part of the Q&A sessions, this time featuring David Bintley, the creative director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and Kash Bennett from the National Theatre, who was talking about the phenomenal success of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night-time.

David Bintley – Birmingham Royal Ballet

David Bintley’s Cinderella is part of the new season at the Birmingham Hippodrome, coming to the theatre in February.  David explained:

“I felt there was a gap for a real Cinderella. The Ugly sisters needed to be women, not men, and needed real characters filled with both anger and humour. Cinderella starts out as the orphaned girl, I added mental cruelty to the treatment. She is a girl without love who finds love.”

This season of Cinderella contains a special ‘first steps’ performance, for the first time at the Birmingham Hippodrome. This is especially for pre-school children and contains a full orchestra. This performance lasts just under the hour and has a narrator, as well as mime and dance that children are encouraged to join in with.

The classic Peter Wright ballet Coppelia is also part of the new season. David explained the challenges of staging classic pieces;-

“Keeping a ballet fresh is always a challenge, especially when the ballet is from the golden age of ballet (19th Century).”

As well as Coppelia, June will see a performance of three short ballets, including Arcadia, the first ballet by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Ruth Brill. David said:-

I’m always interested in the future. Swan Lake was a new ballet once.”

I got chance to have a chat with David Bintley and asked about the possibility of re-staging Giselle, my favourite ballet. The answer was watch this space, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Birmingham Hippodrome. New Season Launch. 16th January 2017. Picture by Simon Hadley. 07774 193699 mail@simonhadley.co.uk www.simonhadley.co.uk

Birmingham Hippodrome. New Season Launch. 16th January 2017.
Picture by Simon Hadley.

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Kash Bennett – National Theatre

Kash Bennett from the National Theatre chatted about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which is returning to the Hippodrome after a previous sell-out, highly acclaimed run. The play which centres around an austistic boy, Christopher, is one of the great success stories of modern theatre. As Kash explained:-

“The key to the story is that you need to get into Christopher’s head – the set is key…”

“In a cynical and scary world we want to see stories of bravery and kindness and honesty. Christopher can’t tell a lie, he’s not able to. He achieves through bravery and perseverance.”

You can read a review of Curious Incident here, it really is an incredible piece of theatre, and, as Kash says, the set is totally key, so I won’t spoil it by divulging any details.

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The New season is looking amazing at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Look out for upcoming reviews.

The Curious Incident of the dog – Just awe-inspiring.

Every so often (if I am are truly lucky) I get to experience a piece of theatre that leaves me totally awestruck. Last night, at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre,  was just one of the those nights. The National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a play by Simon Stephens, based on the novel by Mark Haddon, is one of the most astounding pieces of theatre I have ever watched. With a star-making central performance by Joshua Jenkins, and an ensemble cast that would be hard to beat, I left the theatre both laughing and crying about what I had watched.

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The play is centred around a 15 year old boy who has Aspergers Syndrome. (not that he says that – he refers to it as behavioural problems.) Christopher Boone is a gifted mathematician living with his father in Swindon. He goes to a special school where he has a rewarding relationship with his teacher Siobhan (the warm and lovely Geraldine Alexander.). One night Christopher stumbles upon the body of his neighbour Mrs Shears dog. It is mistakenly thought that Christopher has killed the dog, and after he attacks a policeman for placing hands on him (Christopher has a real phobia about human contact), Christopher decides he needs to play detective and find out who really killed the dog. This sets him on a path that reveals a lot of ‘skeletons in the cupboard’ about his own family. (He would really hate me using that phrase in my review – Christopher is nothing if not literal.)

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Joshua-Jenkins-Christopher-in-The-Curious-Incident-of-the-Dog-in-the-Night-Time-UK-Tour-production.-Photo-by-BrinkhoffMögenberg

In the central role Joshua Jenkins breathes life into the complex character that is Christopher. Virtually on stage for the whole of the play, he is, by turns, hilariously funny, euphorically excitable (explaining why he would be a great astronaut is a high point, and totally heart-breaking as he shirks from every loving contact from the people who love him most. A gentle character at heart, innocent and incapable of lying, Christopher is shown to be capable of acts of violence directed at those who want to protect him. It is an awesome performance that cannot be applauded highly enough.

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME UK Tour 2014/2015

Joshua Jenkins (Christopher) and Stuart Laing (Ed) in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time UK Tour. Photo by BrinkhoffMögenberg

 

As his parents, Ed and Judy, Stuart Laing and Gina Isaac are both great. Stuart makes your heart despair for Ed, particularly in the emotional scene when Christopher finds his mother’s letters, the tenderness and love for the son he tried to protect is there for all to see. Gina Isaac is quite brilliant as Judy, a glamorous memory on the beach for her son, but, in reality, a mother pushed to despair and abandonment by the boy she loved but could no longer cope with. The scene where the 44 letters are revealed, and the letter detailing her affair is read is one of the most powerful of the whole play. I don’t mind admitting it, I shed a tear.

 Gina Isaac (Judy) and the cast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time UK Tour. Photo by BrinkhoffMögenberg.JPG


Gina Isaac (Judy) and the cast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time UK Tour. Photo by BrinkhoffMögenberg.JPG

 Joshua Jenkins (Christopher) and Stuart Laing (Ed) in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time UK Tour. Photo by BrinkhoffMögenberg.JPG


Joshua Jenkins (Christopher) and Stuart Laing (Ed) in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time UK Tour. Photo by BrinkhoffMögenberg.JPG

There are so many other things that need mentioning, not least of which is the set. The whole stage is like an interactive white board and it really adds to the whole piece, you get lost on the stage and genuinely feel like you are in London, or traveling on a train, or even on the Tube tracks. But there is always a element of confusion tied in with the mathematical solutions and straight lines and edges, which makes everything appear as it would through Christopher’s eyes.

The National Theatre have received numerous awards and plaudits for The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time and after watching this, it is obvious why. The play is a masterpiece of modern theatre.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 21st February, click here for ticket information and booking.