Coming to both Peaky Blinders and Rambert Dance for the first time I was perhaps not the intended audience for this spectacle. However, this was no matter for this two-hour thrilling performance of swagger and euphoria, rendering every watcher fully immersed from the moment the curtain went up.
The story loosely follows the plot of the six seasons of the show, and this is visually addressed in the stage performance through the progression of the female costumes; while they begin in flapper style, they soon manifest into the long flowing gowns of the 30s.
It is not necessary to have seen the BBC series beforehand due to the heavy focus on the dance, however, if this be the case, best to suspend any belief in a strong plot line and let the performance and raw talent of this ensemble shine through. One of the most striking performances came from Musa Motha, playing Peaky Blinder Barney, who was mesmerizing as an amputee dancer. Paired with a bejeweled crutch he demonstrated the immeasurable talent of not only the troupe but the choreographers behind the company.
Additionally, the stage was raised above its traditional level with a thin path cut through it creating an intriguing multi-level platform for the performance and, given this is Peaky Blinders after all, a place for the ‘dead’ to fall and evacuate the stage while the ensemble continued, allowing the visceral nature of the show to continue throughout.
The performance was paired with a live band playing the iconic tracks, rendering it a 1920s opium den come rock concert atmosphere and therefore adding to the darkly moving dramatization of Thomas Shelby’s tale.
While the meticulously talented dancers were the focus of the stage, the addition of pyrotechnics, strobe lighting and live gunshots, as well as the seamless shifts between a factory, a fairground, and a wedding elevated the whole to a truly captivating performance.
Thomas Shelby, played by Guillaume Queau, gave an arresting performance in act two as a grief-stricken widower, which culminated in him ‘choosing life over death’ in an iconic finale routine to ‘Red Right Hand’ which had every watcher thoroughly consumed and wishing they had not dropped ballet when they were seven.
The performance ended to rapturous applause and a full theatre standing ovation. A timeless story done impeccably, by order of the Peaky Blinders.
Images ‘Peaky Blinders’ by Johan Persson provided via Press Release