To the majority of us Queen Victoria was a foreboding, small, drab woman who spent most of her life in widow’s weeds – but nothing could be further from the truth.
Victoria was a passionate and fiercely devoted woman and her diaries revealed a life so fascinating that her daughter Beatrice edited them after her death, writes reviewer Liz Coggins.
In her new ballet Victoria Cathy Marston has created an outstanding work that feeds the imagination and gives a broader perspective of Victoria the woman.
Staged in a series of flashbacks we discover Victoria writing her last diary entry before her death,entrusting Beatrice, her youngest child, to prepare them for publication.
As Beatrice starts to read the diaries her perception of what she can recall of her mother from childhood changes. Beatrice is shocked and distressed to read about Victoria’s relationship with John Brown and tears and destroys the entries.
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Marsden’s choreography for the Brown scenarios is steamy and as wild as the Scottish highlands leaving little to the imagination. As John Brown Mlindi Kulashe is strong, physical and rugged, befitting a rough-at-edges Highland ghillie.
The diaries include Beatrice’s tragic love affair and marriage. Her mother at first refused permission for her to marry Liko (Sean Bates) but later changed her mind. But Victoria’s demands on the couple made Liko, despite Beatrice’s pleas, leave for military service and he is killed leaving Beatrice a widow in a dramatic finale to Act 1.
In Act 2 the young Victoria blossoms, becomes Queen and meets and marries Albert (Joseph Taylor) . We witness their highly physical wedding night that ends in a rather risqué piece of choreography, their differences about the lines of duty and a brilliantly humorous giving birth routine that’s repeated nine times.
Shocked by the details her mother has written in her diary Beatrice destroys more of them. Albert's ideas and creation of a dynasty lead him to an early death and Victoria retreats with Beatrice.
As Victoria Abigail Prudames from Harrogate gives an excellent interpretation making the journey from young bride to grieving widow effortlessly. She has passion, determination, is feisty yet playful but at all times regal .
Pippa Moore, as Beatrice, is tasked with an exceedingly difficult role which she tackles magnificently. Never hardly off stage she drives the story and excels with her performance that abounds with emotion.
Runs until Saturday March 16 at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, before embarking on a nationwide tour.
Tickets: 0844 848 2700 or www.leedsgrandtheatre.com