views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Eve's Journey
Bridewell Theatre
1st March 2013


Joe Elisabeth Devie in A Fine Romance

Photography © Anna Kiss

If the thought of 'going to the ballet' makes your heart sink, you probably haven't seen the London Ballet Company in action before. Their latest production, Eve's Journey, is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre as part of the venue's Lunchbox Theatre initiative. This encourages office workers in the area to take in a bit of culture over their lunch break, rather than hunching over their desks getting crumbs in their keyboards. Neither the company nor the venue are precious about you taking in your own sarnies and drinks, eating quietly whilst you enjoy the lunch of champions. To those who regularly work near Blackfriars, oh, how we envy you.

Eve's Journey is divided into 12 short acts, and begins with Eve as a young girl, innocent and full of hopes and expectations. During a handful of pieces, we see the ensemble play with dolls, incorporate playground games into their dance and pretend to sing into hairbrushes. There's a great energy in these first few scenes, mostly light-hearted, one more sexual.

Jo Elisabeth Devie, easily one of the stronger dancers, takes to the stage alone for A Fine Romance, pulling off a wonderful sultry and graceful performance. On the face of it, it does feel a little out of sync with the following act, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, as that shows the heartache brought about by the brutal end to a schoolgirl crush. But like most girls, we expect Eve has been trying to grow up too fast, with Devie's performance how Eve perceives herself to be, rather than how naive she really is at that early stage.

(L-R) Nevard, Morrison, Hurry and Wood in Pretty Women

Photography © Anna Kiss

Undoubtedly one of the show's highlights is Pretty Women, an act in which dancers Rosy Nevard, Alexandra Wood, Jenny Morrison and Charlotte Hurry shows us the female horror of turning up to a party in all your finery and discovering someone else has made exactly the same dress choice. For a dance production, this is actually one of the few scenes where the girls don ballet slippers, enabling them to deliver some technically strong footwork to Ponchielli's Il Ballo Delle Ore. The performers probably spend as much time acting as they do dancing, but here, they prove they're also serious dancers, they're not coasting by on their comedy skills. It also provides a number of allusions to classical ballet, most notably Swan Lake, in the choice of the girls' garments.

The penultimate act, Que Sera Sera, reprises the song from the opening dance but here the arrangement is distinctly unsettling. The ensemble show us the Eves of old - the child (Nevard), the would-be seductress (Devie), the schoolgirl (Wood), the homemaker (Morrison), the homewrecker (Hurry) - and suddenly the tone of the piece becomes bleak. This is magnified having followed Hurry's A Little Fling in which she marvellously channels the ageing starlets of old, combining fading beauty and grace with a large dose of melancholy. By Que Sera Sera, Eve has wandered from one stage of her life to another, bound by the inevitable. After all, what will be will be. For the first time, we seriously question how fulfilled she is.

The performance does end on a happier note, with the lyrics of Beautiful That Way giving all Eves some comfort in When There Were Dreams, with all of the baggage that implies. It provokes thought, but rest assured, you won't be sent back to your office too miserable to get that postprandial filing done.

The reason why Eve's Journey is so engaging lies in director Sophie Francesca Olivia Wright's willingness not to take the dance form too seriously and mix traditional steps with contemporary dance and acting. It makes for a truly accessible piece, which will appeal to those who normally point blank refuse to take in a show. The timing unfortunately means its audience is a limited one, there's no evening show for those who live and work a bit further away. However, those who do make the effort to see this before it closes soon will be very glad they did.

Eve's Journey ran from 19th February to 8th March 2013 at Bridewell Theatre.

Nearest tube station: Blackfriars (Circle, District)

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