Edinburgh Festival Theatre
2 March 2023
Confession: I have never seen Peaky Blinders the TV show. I don't know the stories or the characters... But after witnessing them through the lens of Ballet Rambert, I will definitely be binge watching it soon!
The stage show opens in the trenches of Flanders, and then the story unfolds in post-war industrial Birmingham as the Shelby family navigate the decisions that determine their fate.
Written and adapted for the stage by Peaky Blinders’ creator Steven Knight, with choreography and direction from Rambert’s Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer, this show matches dazzling, athletic dance and stunning dramatisation from the full Rambert company with a live band, specially commissioned music by Roman GianArthur and iconic Peaky tracks from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Radiohead, Anna Calvi, The Last Shadow Puppets, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
I felt like I'd been to a brilliant rock concert! And in a way, I had. The band and the music are central to this production and they take their place on the raised stage, visible and fully involved throughout.
The staging and lighting are impressive from the first to the last scene. The costumes look like they were fitted by Tom Ford. Sublime! The razor blades glint in the hats as the dancers move. A tiny but lovely detail! The choreography is perfectly suited to the roles and the themes - and the dancers deliver it with conviction.
The atmosphere they managed to create in the theatre was so heady, so authentic - I honestly think this needs to be seen to be believed. At the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Front of house and bar staff were all dressed as Peaky Blinders, and the bar was serving themed cocktails.
Hats off to Ballet Rambert and to The Edinburgh Festival Theatre for the effort. It's the best themeing I've ever seen for a touring production and it really helped build the world.
No spoilers, but the end of Act I is shocking and beautiful at the same time. Rather than end on a big number, the curtain falls in silence. Here was the first standing ovation from everyone in my section of the theatre. Glorious!
The whole production oozes quality and it's a masterpiece that blends dance theatre, music and spoken work.
This is by far the best show of any genre I've seen so far this year. And it easily jumps into my top 5 shows ever.
I need to see it again. There is a lot to take in and I can't imagine ever becoming bored. It's an astonishing achievement and I hope audiences who wouldn't normally go to a dance show give this one a chance. It's spectacular.
[Review first posted on Instagram 6 March 2023]
🌟 REVIEW: Rambert Dance: Peaky Blinders, The Redemption of Thomas Shelby (UK Tour, Edinburgh) 🌟
📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com
📸 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram