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Theatre Review: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the Theatre Royal

Ian C Douglas, Left Lion
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Pirouettes and parody - Ian C Douglas takes a trip to Theatre Royal to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo...

A hush descends upon the auditorium. The spotlight falls upon an empty stage. And then a ballerina glides out, dressed in the famous white tutu of Swan Lake fame. A dancer so beautiful, so feminine, so—wait a minute! That’s no ballerina, it’s a ballerino in drag. A man. Yes, it is Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo. Or, as billed in their press release: the world’s most fabulous foremost all-male comic ballet company.

High praise indeed. Do they live up to it? We’ll see in a minute – but first, some history.

Based in New York, the company was founded in 1974 in the wake of the Stonewall Riots. Early performances were held on a makeshift stage of the West Side Discussion Group, an offshoot of the ground-breaking Mattachine Society, one of the first LGBTQ+ rights groups in the US. The concept was then, and is still today, one of professional male dancers performing ballet and modern dance, and so playing all the roles, whether male or female. Although the choreography is serious, the intent is comedy, by way of foibles, accidents, missteps, make-up and more. The very sight of these strapping men rigged up in ballerina costumes is somehow witty.

The dance routines are spot on, with the performers’ grace and athleticism a pleasure to watch
Tonight’s performance includes scenes from the inevitable Swan Lake, the Vivaldi suite and Raymonda’s Wedding. Remember, not one word is spoken on stage. And yet the Trockaderos has the audience in stitches. Some theatregoers are almost rolling in the aisles, helpless with laughter. All done with an arch of the eyebrow, a roll of the eyes, a kick here, a face slap there. Imagine RuPaul’s Drag Race set to classical music and you’re almost there.

There are more jokes in the programme, full of fake names with fake bios. Helen Highwater, Boris Dumbkopf and the Legupski Brothers are just some. A programme you can take home to savour the groanworthy puns the next day.

In conclusion, are they fabulous? The dance routines are spot on, with the performers’ grace and athleticism a pleasure to watch. The costumes, as to be expected from classical ballet, are delightful. And they are very funny, no doubt about it. So yes, they are the most fabulous all-male comic company to visit Nottingham since, well, their last visit four years ago. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another four years before the ‘Trocks’ are once again tiptoeing across our boards.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo played at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal from Tuesday 4 to Wednesday 5 October

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