RUINATION | London, Royal Opera House

This co-production between Lost Dog and the Royal Ballet breaks the traditional ‘ballet and dance’ mould, by putting on a play-with-dance (two thirds play, one third dance). Ostensibly a feminist and modernist retelling of the Medea myth, the wit of the writing and stagecraft (Ben Duke, Raquel Meseguer Zafe) offers endless surprises. One of the many highlights is seeing Jason (Liam Francis) battle an army of skeletons in robotic, strobe-like choreography, to the music of Purcell’s Cold Song on piano (Yshani Perinpanayagam) and counter-tenor (Keith Pun).

One of the most interesting and intriguing aspects of the production is the framing device of this small, Linbury Studio show running concordantly with The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker upstairs in the velvet, gilt and glamour of the main auditorium. We are, in other words, in the ‘under’ world.

The prestate as the audience files in is television monitors quietly relaying the action of the main stage, and the play is introduced to us by Hades (Jean-Daniel Broussé) rudely questioning our decision to watch the Linbury Studio show instead of The Nutcracker. Shortly after, Persephone (Anna-Kay Gayle) descends from the ceiling holding a tutu she’s stolen from the sugarplum fairy, for Hades, who is naked from the waist down.

It’s a shame that this framing device (and the enormous ladder centre stage) is more or less dispensed with after the first ten minutes. But what we do get is an endlessly inventive and innovative production that seamlessly melds theatre and dance, and makes us think about the character of Medea (Hannah Shepherd) in a brand new way.

Ruination is playing at the Linbury Studio Theatre 1 – 31 December 2022.

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