BalletBoyz’s Life at Brighton Dome

Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos in their respective commissions Rabbit and Fiction capture the audience’s imagination with a nonsensical look at life, death and everything in between.

In a ballet production that features a troop of angry rabbits and the fictional death of its real-life choreographer Javier de Frutos, the absurd reigns supreme. Pontus Lidberg, responsible for the first half of the performance offers no clear narrative but somehow that doesn’t seem to matter so captivating is the dancing. Sensuality and fluidity characterise Rabbit, while themes of loneliness, sorrow and sex dominate the non-story as a lone dancer is joined by a company of emotionally erratic rabbits. Lidberg traverses childhood, adolescence and adulthood as he hints at a very relevant world of masks, conformity and the need to belong. At the same time, he celebrates the mechanisms and power of make-believe as an element of individuality. The result is something between Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland, and it’s utterly entrancing.

While Fiction lacks the mournful elegance of Rabbit, it has a cheeky manner and is delightfully tongue-in-cheek, causing titters that often descend into outright laughter from a grinning audience. As a voice narrates the fictional obituary of de Frutos in place of a score, his half is glaringly meta-theatrical and often teeters on the edge of narcissism, as the imagined death and former life of de Frutos becomes a guiding and perceptible narrative. Thankfully, this is offset in the performance by comedic irony and a wonderful flippancy; in Fiction, de Frutos has been impaled on a shard of glass from his set, killed by his own creative vision. And as de Frutos reminds us, to kill anyone else but himself is simply impolite. Although de Frutos’ choreography is purposefully clumsy and often incoherent, reflecting the frustration of those left behind in the aftermath of death, he captures with an excruciating accuracy the arbitrariness of death and the pettiness that engulfs the bereaved as they try to come to terms with their grief.

Highly interpretive and sometimes seemingly incongruous, Rabbit and Fiction come together in a postmodern musing on life and death from two very different styles of choreography, often as funny and charming as it is morbid and morose. The highly interpretive production is, as BalletBoyz founders Michael Nunn and William Trevitt state, ‘two halves of the same subject: life and death, black and white, yin and yang’. Neither Rabbit nor Fiction would be sufficient alone, but as a double bill, Life comes alive.

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