Northern Ballet: Victoria @ Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Northern Ballet's Victoria is a thought-provoking dance biopic, telling the story of Queen Victoria in her 200th anniversary year

Review by Lynn Rusk | 22 Apr 2019
  • Northern Ballet - Victoria

To mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, Northern Ballet has created Victoria, a highly intellectual and thought-provoking dance biopic commemorating a remarkable monarch and woman.

Choreographed by Cathy Marston, this production re-tells some of the key moments of the British monarch’s life using a series of diary entries, narrated by Victoria's youngest daughter, Beatrice. Told in two acts and shifting between the past and the present, the first act sees Beatrice relive her childhood and memories of her first love. This runs in parallel with her mother’s infamous love affair with her servant John Brown (Mlindi Kulashe). In the second act, we follow Victoria's later life as a reclusive widow.

Abigail Prudames beautifully portrays the Queen, and captures her stubbornness and over-reliance on her daughter. The role of Beatrice is performed by two dancers – Pippa Moore, who plays an older Beatrice wistfully, watches her younger self (played by Miki Akuta) fall in love with Liko (Sean Bates), a young and boyish soldier. In one of the most memorable scenes in this ballet, the three perform a stunning pas de trois in which the older Beatrice weaves and floats between the younger couple, reliving a happier time. In the second act, Victoria ascends to the throne before Albert (Joseph Taylor) pushes her out of the political sphere and limits her role to motherhood. 

This is an emotional and ambitious re-telling of an important historical period and Northern Ballet has relished the task of making this story into a ballet. However, this is not the most accessible of shows – plenty prior reading is definitely required in order to keep up with the story. That being said, Phillip Feeney’s mesmerising score is just as impressive as Marston’s inventive choreography and each dancer delivers a flawless performance. Just do your homework before attending.

Northern Ballet: Victoria, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, run ended
Tour continues at Milton Keynes Theatre, 30 Apr - 4 May; Cardiff New Theatre, 21-25 May; Belfast Grand Opera House, 29 May - 1 Jun; screening live at cinemas across the UK on 25 Jun