Cathy Marston’s ballet has been made available for audiences to watch at home until 20 March 2021.
The story of Queen Victoria has been interpreted in many different ways through film, books and television drama – but this thoughtful and ambitious ballet takes audiences deeper into the woman as well as the queen.
Choreographed and directed by Cathy Marston, the ballet is divided into two halves that really explore the emotional complexities as well as the different relationship difficulties that she had with those around her with great insight. The first act starts with Victoria dealing with her grief for the loss of Albert and depending on John Brown, while the second concentrates on how she developed as a queen.
Throughout it all, her youngest daughter Beatrice is in the background, reading and reacting to her mother’s diaries and capturing the conflict of emotions she felt towards her mother throughout her own life. It is a deeply psychological piece that is as much about a daughter dealing with how she felt about her mother and reconciling to the past as it is about retelling Queen Victoria’s story.
With the help of Uzma Hameed’s damaturgy and scenario, Marston’s ballet is filled with many touching and thoughtful details – as seen through the duets between Albert and Victoria or the way in which Beatrice gets lost in her mother’s life and memories while reflecting on how they have impacted on her life. This is heartbreakingly highlighted through Beatrice’s relationship with Liko that is only allowed to proceed if the couple stay with Victoria – which ends unhappily – leading to the realisation for Beatrice she has unwittingly become like her mother.
The choreography is also effective in highlighting the many different directions Victoria was being pulled in, captured in the moments in which Albert battles for Victoria’s attention as well as her encounters with John Conroy and her mother. This is all enhanced further by the emotional pull of the music by Philip Feeney, which perfectly frames the story as seen when Beatrice angrily tears out pages of her mother’s diary when she realises how close she and John Brown were.
Everything about this ballet is distinctive and unique to any other ballet around – showing the confidence and ambition of Northern Ballet. This is really reflected in the high quality of the performances including Pippa Moore as the present day Beatrice who delivers an emotionally raw performance with plenty of standout moments. Elsewhere, Abigail Prudames provides a strong and charismatic Victoria – capturing the many different aspects of her character perfectly. Miki Akuta as the younger Beatrice has a beautiful quality to her performance that really shines through in her romantic duet with Liko (Sean Bates).
As a ballet, Victoria is stunning achievement not only in terms of its concept but also in the way in which it handles its characters (particularly Victoria and Beatrice) with great sympathy, given them emotional depth that adds to the pleasure of watching the story unfold.
By Emma Clarendon
Victoria is available to watch through Northern Ballet’s website until the 20th March.