The Times UK review — High spirits and pratfalls in gleeful ballet parody ★★★★☆

Debra Craine / The Times. Thurs Sep 8 2022.
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Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo are the world's foremost comedy ballet troupe. Photo by Marilyn Kingwill

Spirits are usually high at the beginning of a long tour. But as the Trocks (Les
Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo) opened their latest visit to the UK — two
months and 12 venues — spirits were off the chart. Perhaps it’s an after-effect of
the pandemic — now everyone just wants to have fun.
Fun was certainly on the agenda at the Peacock, where the enthusiasm of the
audience matched that of the men in the world’s foremost comedy ballet troupe as
they donned tutus, tiaras and toe shoes to deliver their distinctive take on ballet classics.
Channeling the glories and excesses of old Russian ballerinas, the Trocks
are as devoted to the choreography as they are to parodying it en travesti.

Sometimes the jokes are broad, as in Swan Lake. The Trocks give us Act II
(Ivanov’s choreography slightly manhandled), complete with pratfalls, duck
quacks, an effeminate prince in bright-red lipstick, a silly best friend, a pantomime
villain and some hilariously savage swans. On Wednesday night they also gave us
an outstanding Odette in the shape of Takaomi Yoshino, as ridiculously gleeful as
he was technically proficient.
More Swan Lake follows in Pas de Trois from Act I — the joke is that the two
ballerinas tower over their pint-sized gentleman partner — while
in Nightcrawlers the choreographer Peter Anastos makes merry with Jerome
Robbins’s In the Night, turning his moody nocturnal romance for three couples into
a dysfunctional shambles. Elsewhere, Robert Carter moults manically in The Dying
Swan solo but underpins the laughs with the most beautiful port de bras.

In the first of two programmes for London, the Trocks save the best for
last. Valpurgeyeva Noch (Walpurgisnacht), inspired by Leonid Lavrovsky’s 1941
production for the Bolshoi Ballet, harks back to the glory days of Soviet ballet at
its most camp. We are transported to ancient Greek myth to take part in a happy
sexual frolic with everyone, except for a pair of virginal nymphs, intoxicated on
wine and lust.

A quartet of cavorting Fauns chase the haughty Bacchante (the elegant Ugo Cirri)
while gormless Bacchus (Joshua Thake) looks lost and Pan (Yoshino, again
terrific) plays his alluring pipes and dances up a storm. The music is from
Gounod’s Faust; the choreography (staged by Elena Kunikova after Lavrovsky) is
a delight, as are the softly romantic sets and costumes.

To Sep 17 then touring to Oct 29,

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