by Michael Pinchbeck.
Nottingham Playhouse Wellington Circus NG1 5AF To 1 June 2014.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.
TICKETS: 0115 951 9419.
Review: Alan Geary: 31 May 2014.
Part of Nottingham’s Neat 14 Festival,Bolero combines the Sarajevo assassination, which triggered the Great War, the composer Maurice Ravel and his composition of ‘Bolero’ in 1928; the 1984 Winter Olympics, in particular ice dancers Torvill and Dean, who hail from Nottingham, and the Bosnian Civil War, particularly the Siege of Sarajevo. And much else.
It’s compelling stuff. We’re reminded of Ravel’s experience in World War I, and how, post-war, he wrote a piano piece for Paul Wittgenstein (brother of philosopher Ludwig), who had lost an arm in the conflict.
Populist this isn’t. It’s like a complex novel with interwoven streams of consciousness; but it never becomes unintelligible. Occasionally the interweaving seems ragged and forced, as if vignettes are being arbitrarily lumped together. It’s a dread word, but Bolero might benefit from more “workshopping”
Assuming a multitude of roles are six figures in black, the devisers and performers. They’re augmented by a large ensemble whose splendidly choreographed movement, shading into physical theatre, lends visual and emotional depth to the work. And by way of knockabout light relief, there’s a funny routine set on a Lufthansa London-Sarajevo flight, with the cabin crew demonstrating safety procedures in three languages.
Voice projection is occasionally inadequate, but the performers move in and out of proceedings and character with ease. Leading actor Ollie Smith, for instance, is horribly convincing as the oleaginous TV compère.
Scenery is, rightly, simple – a red and black set with plenty of multi-purpose red plastic buckets to hand, and black plastic chairs with splatterings of blood-like paint.
The most tantalising thing about the production – it’s clearly intentional – is that we never get to see Chris and Jane dancing, or, more importantly, to hear more than a snatch of ‘Bolero’ itself. But nearly all the rest of the music used in the evening is Ravel’s; and wonderful it is. There’s also, sublimely, Mozart’s Requiem.
It all ends with back projection of the commemoration in 2012 when 11,541 red chairs were laid out in a Sarajevo street, one for each of its citizen killed in the mess of the Yugoslav wars.
Devisers/Performers: Benjamin Bajramovic, Nicki Hobday, Vera Molitor, Jasenko Pasic, Ollie Smith, Amila Terzimehic.
Director: Michael Pinchbeck.
Designer/Costume: Sarah Lewis.
Choregrapher: Arianna Maiorani.
Dramaturg: Florent Mehmeti.