Northern Ballet: Merlin Review – A Full Takeover of the Wizard Boy | Ballet
DRew McOnie’s first full ballet, Merlin, is a sympathetic stab in a fantasy drama for family audiences, based on the story of the legendary wizard, with warring kingdoms, spear battles, magic from stage, a smoke-breathing dragon and a powerful LED Excalibur.
The plot drives are quests for power and romantic love – the big stuff – but Merlin’s story is more of a family affair. Born from a meeting between a couple of dashing gods and adopted by a single blacksmith mother, he has a perfect fantasy of who his parents could be, but a more realistic relationship with his mother: daily exasperations and everyone doing their best but not not quite making the other person happy (she wants him to give up his magic and join the military like everyone else) This trip is the real heart of the series.
The stage is stunning (designed by Colin Richmond), the kingdom drenched in gold, the costumes both medieval and futuristic, while Grant Olding’s music clarifies the drama line by line. Best known for his work in musical theater (Carousel, Jesus Christ Superstar), McOnie brings a sensibility to contemporary dance with added spikes, playing with bold strokes, sweeps and diagonals, like writing Japanese kanji characters. in the space. It could be done with a bit more vocabulary in some places, however.
The dancers are always on the move, everything is action and intrigue (even if some details get lost). You don’t get a lot of dance monologues, it’s really an ensemble piece. But the soloists are good: Merlin (Kevin Poeung) is a great dancer, with good elevation; even when his character is not very sure of himself, the dance is clear and constant. Antoinette Brooks-Daw commands as type Daenerys Targaryen (with the fighting skills of Arya Stark) who becomes addicted to power, sucks magic from Merlin, wreaks havoc because she can’t get the boyfriend she she wants.
McOnie missed a tip by not really showing what ballet dancers can do, in terms of the intricacies of the technique, the way the dance can really speak, or even the soaring bravery steps. But it’s not bad for a first try.