When asked if she’d like to create a ballet about the iconic monarch, Queen Victoria, choreographer Cathy Marston’s first point of call was to binge-watch the popular ITV series. Halfway through, and she had decided she’d accept the mammoth challenge – though she realised there was enough material to produce at least 10 ballets spanning almost 100 years of history!
Cathy tells the story through the eyes of the youngest of Victoria’s nine children – Beatrice. As she transcribes her mother’s diaries (and edits out many indiscretions by tearing out the pages..) we see figures important to (and scenes from) Victoria’s life unfold. Of course there’s Albert, the love of her life and her nine children and their spouses, but also John Brown and the Prime Ministers of the time – Lord Melbourne, Disraeli and Gladstone, plus Beatrice as a young and older princess.
Incidents including becoming Empress of India, the Opium Wars and The Great Exhibition are also staged plus an ingenious scene showing the ‘births’ of all of Victoria’s nine children. Exhausting!
All the dancers in this production are an absolute delight to watch. Their grace, stamina, strength and precision are remarkable. Abigail Prudames as Victoria is impeccable and in scenes with Joseph Taylor as Albert, these two excellent dancers become one person, in a flow of movements so seamless you can’t see where one ends and the other begins.
Miki Akuta as the Young Princess Beatrice is a delicate delight and premier dancer Pippa Moore as the Older Princess Beatrice is remarkable; it was quite the privilege to get to see her in what is her final role before retiring.
The music by Philip Feeney was rousing, passionate, dramatic and also soaring and serene. The perfect backdrop to a momentous story told so beautifully.
Victoria is on at The New Theatre Cardiff until May 25. More information at newtheatrecardiff.co.uk
Photos by Emma Kauldhar