Giselle: Remix ★★★★

GISELLE: REMIX offers an anarchic, punk-reimagining of the classic ballet

The Royal Opera House? The Pleasance Theatre in North London is not, but it does provide a perfect performance space for Giselle: Remix, a modern and innovative retelling of the classic much-loved ballet.

If your social circles or lack of interest in classical ballet mean you haven’t found yourself in the auditoriums of the likes of the Royal Opera House or Coliseum to see Giselle (the OG version), you may not be familiar with the storyline, so this next part is for you.

In a nutshell, a young peasant girl, Giselle (no, not a small horned dear like creature that would be found in Africa), is in love with Albrecht (what a name), a Duke who hides his title and his engagement to another (very Married at First Sight Australia – IYKYK). When Giselle discovers he has deceived her, she is driven to madness, and dies of a broken heart. Sad times. And if that didn’t get your artistic rivers flowing, fear not, because this ‘beloved tale’ has had a REMIX!

Jack Sears and Hannah Grennell’s creation is good. It’s really good. It cleverly blends traditional elements of storytelling and classical dance techniques, with creative new themes and choreography. Nothing you’ll see on stage is groundbreaking, but for the size of the production it’s thoroughly enjoyable to immerse yourself in. If you are of a nervous or delicate temperament though, this one isn’t for you. These artists boldly express themselves for over an hour and touch on sensitive themes such as drug abuse, suicide, and death, but it must be noted, all with well-composed delivery.

Images by Ali Wright

The show is, without a doubt, a piece of highly curated stage-art in every sense, but at times it’s that positive that leaves you wondering if it’s trying to be too many things and too many genres. Comedy, cabaret, contemporary dance, classical ballet and more, if these genres were chocolate, even Augustus Gloop would be full.

The show boasts three guest ‘star performers’ joining the main cast on stage on different dates throughout the run, and for the show we attended that was Kit Green. They open the show well and set the tone for what we thought we should expect, but oddly is not seen again until the closing song. Does the guest performer add anything to the piece? Other than setting a scene which is then quickly abandoned by the second song in the show. No, probably not. But in fairness to them, what they do is good. Very good. But it’s almost like putting a toupee on a bald head, not totally necessary. Just embrace your skin head destiny and own the show you have without the need for a guest ‘turn’ topping and tailing what is a perfectly good show in its own right.

The dancers on the other hand are the show. Their skill and artistry shine through every single second they’re on stage. Elle Fierce, Marie Astrid Mence, Spike King (great name) and Harri Eiffert all set the stage alight with their talent. They were totally captivating, and it is they who breathe new life into the storyline.

Jack Sears heads up the group as the Giselle inspired lead. He is brilliant and unsurprisingly, perfectly cast in his own creation. His comical facial expressions are totally hilarious, but the problem is you don’t get enough of that side of Sears before the story turns dark. It is this point of the show that dips below the exceptional standard that is set in the first twenty minutes. The darker scenes feel quite long and, in some cases, a little dull. What is presented in terms of artistry at this part of the show is great, but no one wants, nor needs, too much of a good thing. Especially if that involves a plush luxurious red silk cape, a black PVC body suit and a gimp mask. Enough said.  

The darker side of the show is still perfectly executed by all the performers, but Lucy Adams‘ lighting design elevates the entire piece. The show is lit with inspiring visuals from beginning to end and it helps to lift and give interest to the longer repetitive scenes with a variations of lighting techniques.

The sound on the other hand, which is integral to a show whose foundations are set on a soundtrack of lip-syncing over gay icons songs and speech and a plethora of music genres from club to classical music, lets the piece down. Songs and clips of spoken word are too frequently distorted and poorly mixed, and it is disappointing for what is otherwise a very strong piece of theatre.  

This production seamlessly blends traditional elements with a fresh perspective, and the audience seemed, on the whole, captivated by its dynamic performances and storytelling.

It’s a lot… but in a good way | ★★★★ 4 stars

Giselle: Remix Tickets

Giselle: Remix runs at The Pleasance, London until 27th April 2024

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