The long awaited 21st century production of the classic, Don Quixote has arrived at Sunderland Empire Theatre
Don Quixote, the 17th century classic Spanish novel, is well and truly brought to life by Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Truthfully, I haven’t seen many ballets in my time and have often considered them to be a bit high-brow and maybe a bit heavy for me. But Don Quixote has 100% proven me wrong – ballet, I am sorry!
This show was chock-full of exciting characters, spectacular costumes and genuinely laugh-out-loud moments (which is very impressive when you’re not actually speaking!). It felt emotive and relatable and drew you in with the humour as well as the fact that it didn’t take itself too seriously.
From the very beginning, when we see Don Quixote himself mounts a fake (very DIY) horse made out of barrels with mops for legs We are brought into his idealistic, and at times ridiculous, world. He is a character that you root for and really want to succeed. Which makes watching his chivalrous adventures that much more exciting.
The Quest for True Love
As Don sets off on his quest to discover his true love, he is distracted by a new and tragic love story. Kitri and Basilio fall in love and have to convince Kitri’s father to let her marry Basilio, even though he a penniless barber.
From the very second that Kitri enters the stage, she demands the attention of everyone in the audience. Although there was so much going on on stage, from village people chatting in the background, to dancers shaking their skirts in support of the soloists, I could not take my eyes off Kitri.
She is then supported by Basilio, who independently is sensational, but together the two of them were so graceful, with so much chemistry. Like Don Quixote, we instantly root them and for their romance to work out. It doesn’t feel like other tragic romances where it’s doomed from the beginning. It feels like they’ll find a way to make it work, because everyone is cheering them on that much.
As Kitri and Basilio’s romance unfolds, we are also introduced to another new couple – Mercedes and Espada. As soon as Mercedes came on stage, she became my favourite character. Her costume was stunning, and she wore large gold hoop earrings which just enhanced her sophistication.
Espada tries to impress her by dancing with his red matador cape. A literal red flag, you might say – and from then onwards we are taken through their turbulent relationship until they eventually seem to settle down and become good friends with Kitri and Basilio.
Don Quixote: The Second act
In the second act, Kitri and Basilio are met with a crowd of ‘gypsies’. They seem intimidating at first, the audience are totally pulled in by their colourful costumes, shouts of encouragement for one another and unmatched energy.
I think this scene is one of the most aesthetically pleasing of the whole show. Only second to the dream-sequence after Don Quixote is knocked unconscious. The stage is filled with white and silver florals and the dancers wear traditional white tutus adorned with silver sequins. For me, this scene was exactly what I’d hope for and more when going to see a ballet.
As someone who honestly didn’t given ballet a fair shot in the past, I 100% encourage everyone to start their ballet journey off with Don Quixote. It was genuinely funny. Beautifully staged and beautifully danced and you could really see the hard work that the dancers put into their craft – although they didn’t seem to break a sweat!