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  • Your Reaction: After The Rain / Strapless / Within the Golden Hour

Your Reaction: After The Rain / Strapless / Within the Golden Hour

What did you think of The Royal Ballet's mixed programme of works by Christopher Wheeldon?

By Paul Spear (Digital Producer)

13 February 2016 at 9.35am | 22 Comments

Press reviews:
Londonist ★★★★★
Time Out ★★★★
Telegraph ★★★
Guardian ★★★
Times (£) ★★★
The Stage ★★★
Arts Desk ★★★
Financial Times ★★★
Independent (Strapless only) ★★
New York Times (Strapless only, no star rating - mixed)

What did you think of After The Rain / Strapless / Within the Golden Hour?
Let us know via the comments below.

After the Rain / Strapless / Within the Golden Hour runs until 11 March 2016.
Tickets are sold out, though returns may become available and 44 day tickets are available on the morning of each performance.

Strapless is a co-production with the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.

This article has 22 comments

  1. Jakegee responded on 13 February 2016 at 10:58am Reply

    A most enjoyable triple bill, although I found " Strapless" a rather disappointing 'filler to the sandwich'. "After the Rain" and "Within the Golden Hour" were much more delightful to watch, and flowed so beautifully, while I felt "Strapless" was labouring and the score at times strident and jarring.

    The pas de deux from "After the Rain" is so hauntingly beautiful and elegant, and now I'm looking forward very much to seeing it today when performed by Zenaida Yanowsky and Reece Clarke. I'm sure that will be stunning!

    "Strapless" ...... Enough said meantime - it may perhaps appeal more today at a second viewing.

    "Within the Golden Hour" was wonderful throughout, but the high point of the entire evening was undoubtedly the pas de deux of Luca Acre and Marcelino Sambe!! They were awarded the most enthusiastic spontaneous round of applause and roar of approval of all by the appreciative audience! And I'm delighted to learn that they are again in today's matinee performance.

  2. Stuart Dixon responded on 13 February 2016 at 11:30am Reply

    First and last by far the best for me. Marianela and Thiago's PDD was just heartbreaking, Not a sound in the auditorium, which is always a great sign. Beatriz in the Golden Hour was a match for the two principal ladies and the ensemble dancing was a joy. Strapless, did not work for me, very disappointed. Weak story, black costumes on a black background not good. Music seemed out of place in an eighteenth century setting. Seemed to have been created for Natalia and she was wonderful but hardly saw Edward. I saw Sergie in the audience, I wonder what he made of it.

  3. Nick responded on 13 February 2016 at 1:31pm Reply

    Whilst I'd not seen After The Rain or Within The Golden Hour live before, online excerpts had me really looking forward to last night, with the added excitement of Strapless. I thought the live performances of After The Rain and Within The Golden Hour exceeded anything I had seen online. As Stuart Dixon says above, Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares were heartbreaking, and everyone I was with was really moved by the whole piece, and deeply so by their pas de deux.

    I confess I found Strapless a bit discordant and not really the sort of dance that I enjoy the most, but I thought the costumes were great, the interplay of movement in the bigger scenes striking and although I thought Natalia Osipova didn't get the chance to shine with her expression, she danced, as always, beautifully. The others in my group enjoyed it more and the consensus was that it would benefit from another viewing - perhaps Jakegee will post a follow up comment with that in mind.

    And Within the Golden Hour. Such a showcase of talent that went far beyond the norm for showcases which, for me, tend to be stilted exhibitions. This flowed beautifully with no weaknesses at all, simply different degrees of strengths I'd say. Luca Acri and Marcelino Sambé were spectacular, and the partnership of Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae shone - but that is not to say that anyone else was anything but utterly delightful.

    Thank you to everyone involved.

    Finally, I had an unexpected bonus in that I saw Wayne McGregor in an interval and he and his companion were kind enough to allow me to interrupt them and I was able to congratulate him for Woolf Works - my favourite performance by some way, capped of course by the utterly exquisite Alessandra Ferri. Wayne McGregor and his companion were most gracious and welcoming, thank you.

    • Jakegee responded on 13 February 2016 at 5:53pm

      Thank you, Nick! I have just returned from today's matinee, and I must say today's cast were in no way 'put in the shade' by last night's dancers. Indeed I felt the cast in "Strapless" we're much more 'together' than the first night cast. The dancing was excellent and the character acting exceeded last night's cast. Perhaps it fell into place better because it was my second viewing, but I certainly enjoyed it much more.

      I still enjoyed the 'bread of the sandwich' better than the filling! The pas de deux from "After the Rain" was sublime. Reece Clarke's dancing was amazing and his partnering of the wonderful, elegant Zenaida Yanowsky was confident and impeccable. You would have heard a pin drop in the auditorium.

      Reece was also excellent in the role of Dr. Pozzi in "Strapless". His stature and elegance suited the role so well, and his acting ability was stunning. This young dancer has a bright future ahead of him. Lauren Cuthbertson was a perfect Amelie, graceful and serene.

      "Within the Golden Hour" was again a wonderful end to the Triple Bill. The young cast of Yuhui Choi & Alexander Cambell, Francesca Hayward & Valentino Zucchetti and Akane Takada & Tristan Dyer showcased the superlative talent of the Royal Ballet's younger members, being nurtured by the company. Bravo to Kevin O'Hare and Christopher Wheeldon for encouraging them in their careers.

      Again I must give a special mention to Luca Acre and Marcelino Sambe for their 'duet' in "Within the Golden Hour". It again 'stole the show' and raised a roar of approval from the audience. Well done, you lads!!

      I also had the honour of speaking to Christopher Wheeldon and congratulating him during an interval, and would like to thank him again for his graciousness in chatting with me - and also, of course, for providing us with a most enjoyable production.

  4. Nick responded on 14 February 2016 at 1:35am Reply

    Thank you Jakegee, very interesting. I'd love to see some of the performances with different dancers and also from different angles, but have only managed it the once I'm afraid. I was surprised to see that Within The Golden Hour is on twice this year but I'm looking forward to seeing it again, alongside Obsidian Tear and The Invitation and will go for Valentino Zucchetti, Francesca Hayward, Yuhui Choe et al I think.

    • Jakegee responded on 15 February 2016 at 6:36pm

      I fortunately bought a ticket for 10th March with the same cast as Saturday, so I have one more to enjoy!

      I think you have made a good choice of cast for the triple bill in May / June! I plan to get tickets for the matinees on 4th and 11th June. The cast for "The Invitation" has not yet been announced, but I may later get a ticket for the other (star?) cast if there is someone in it whom I really want to see.

  5. Berenice responded on 14 February 2016 at 1:02pm Reply

    Absolutely agree about Yanowsky and Clarke - stunning. The thrill of the performance for me.

  6. Anne Dean responded on 14 February 2016 at 1:10pm Reply

    A sublime opening ballet, with Thiago and Marienella almost heartbreakingly beautiful in After the Rain, followed by a stunning Osipova in a disappointing second work, not up to Wheeldon's usual brilliance, and then a knock out conclusion in Within the Golden Hour, with Vadim and
    and partner outstanding among a stellar cast. Lots more please!

  7. Jane Scholl responded on 15 February 2016 at 1:37pm Reply

    A real treat to see so many of our RB stars in one triple bill - Marianela & Thiago alone were worth the whole programme! Can't say that Wheeldon is interesting enough to merit an entire triple bill - too american for me - although Golden Hour was something special. Strapless was a big disappointment - lighting too dark - and why doesn't Amelie take her curtain in the gorgeous red dress? She looked ridiculous in a leotard with a cast in evening dress behind her - please Kevin more Ashton/MacMillan triple bills.

  8. Nick Byrne responded on 17 February 2016 at 7:28am Reply

    I'll be brief. A triple bill of any one choreographer is a big ask, and to a large extent Wheeldon pulled it off with a good mix of two imported abstracts and one home-grown narrative. I'll focus on Strapless. Most of the constructive criticism was justified. The snide stuff not. Music was far better than I expected after reading such condescending comments. Ballet started and finished with strength - Osipova both reticent and superb, and the key PDD and PDT amazingly danced and well constructed. Total commitment from all. I liked the set and the figures in black on black were strong images. In fact for me it worked as a tight symbolic "dark" work looking at the folly of vanity from a voyeuristic view point. It fell down when Wheeldon tried to extend this by adding a bit of light entertainment - the cancan bar scene, and even the husband/wife characters. Get rid of those, and you'd have a brittle, superficial dark jewel of a piece (cf the taut structure of Moor's Pavane) which would need to explain less (btw the plot is not THAT difficult!) and would show a lot more.

  9. Nick B responded on 17 February 2016 at 1:27pm Reply

    I attended last night's (Tuesday) performance. Firstly, we are so fortunate to have all the people who make this brilliant ballet company what it is. The depth and breadth of talent and dedication is amazing.
    I thought the performance of After The Rain provided an ideally engaging start to the evening. In particular, Marianella and Thiago were so moving and beautiful together at the end, but there was a lot of coughing in the audience at that point which spoilt it a bit for me.
    I agree with Nick Byrne's assessment of Strapless - the makings of a fine atmospheric narrative piece with a bit of editing. I thought Natalia Osipova was a joy to watch with superb support from Edward Watson. And I loved the outfits!
    Golden Hour was an unforgettable company tour de force - a stellar performance! A special mention for Stephen McRae and Sarah Lamb who were on fire!!
    The superb playing of the ROH orchestra never fails to impress me - in particular their rendition of the challenging Turnage score for Strapless.
    One gripe: there seemed to be a lot of coughing in the audience throughout the evening - may I suggest you explore the possibility of the programme vendors selling tubes of Hall's Soothers (boiled sweets) or something similar? I'm not joking! I'm sure some of the audience would appreciate the opportunity if they arrive with a bit of a cough and have nothing to hand. They work for me as I'm a bit bronchial myself. Could I also suggest that the pre-performance announcer informs the audience that a handkerchief over the mouth muffles the sound of a cough significantly. Does anyone agree with me or am I suffering from a bout of intolerance brought on by old age?

    • ML responded on 26 February 2016 at 10:17am

      There wasn't coughing at our performance but there was a group of 4 people trying to occupy and hang on to seats they hadn't paid for. After claiming they just "got the wrong seats", they were heard cackling loudly when the usher left- "Haha! Nice try but it didn't work!" Such bizarre behaviour- they weren't first timers, they were too well dressed and too old to be hard up students. They could easily have afforded better seats. Must be a sign of the times.

      You're not intolerant- theatregoers just used to behave better. A quick scan of the programme reveals a list of entreaties and injunctions about use of smartphones, texting, food in the auditorium, security and bags, etc......much longer than the previous brief comment about late arrivals and how disruptive and loud coughing can be. Again, probably a sign of the times. The comment about coughing and cough sweets is now gone- maybe there is no space left at the back. It could go in the middle pages, perhaps.

  10. IanJ responded on 18 February 2016 at 8:44am Reply

    Nick B: There was indeed a lot of coughing on Tuesday evening. However, I am less aggrieved by that, which after all is involuntary, than I am by people talking. Increasingly, some audience members seem to think it's perfectly acceptable to comment during the performance. This is true in both opera and ballet.

    As for the performances: I am not usually a big fan of abstract works, but After the Rain and Within the Golden Hour were both very engaging and wonderfully performed. Strapless, which I had expected to be my favourite piece, left me surprisingly unmoved. I agree that some reworking could make all the difference.

    The RB does a wonderful job and is going from strength to strength. Thank you Kevin!

  11. Nick Byrne responded on 18 February 2016 at 9:09am Reply

    LOL - Nick Byrne is talking to Nick B. (We are separate people and total strangers!) completely agree mobile phone rings and coughs were off the scale that evening! Free cough sweets on offer at all points of entry...

  12. Gail crichtom responded on 18 February 2016 at 6:23pm Reply

    I loved all the ballets, but in particular after the rain. Beautiful dancing and the softest lighting. The lighting through the backcloth of the golden hours was quite exceptional and captured the mood of each of the dances. Such a varied programme and stunning dancing, really enjoyed it.

  13. Agree mostly: After the Rain was very enjoyable, Strapless was badly lit and boring despite the wonderful Osipova and, yes, Polunin was watching just below us, but the finale of Within the Golden Hour made up for everything, and I look forward to that in the next Triple Bill containing it.

  14. Dr David Montgomerie responded on 18 February 2016 at 9:34pm Reply

    Strapless a poor attempt to be a Matthew Bourne crowdpleaser which like Bourne iis so last century.

  15. Michael responded on 20 February 2016 at 5:59pm Reply

    Congratulations all round for the Wheeldon triple bill. After reading some negative comments in the press I must admit to some apprehension, especially for 'Strapless'. However, after seeing two performances with different casts on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 February, I was left speechless with admiration for all involved in these three fine ballets. May I say to Mr Wheeldon: poor Kenneth MacMIllan used to have his ballets absolutely slated by certain critics. Constructive criticism is of course helpful but sheer vitriol just shows you how inadequate that individual truly is, so take no notice and continue showing us your talent Mr Wheeldon.
    What struck me at both performance was the wealth of talent from within the male ranks. I was stunned by Reece Clarke partnering Yanowsky in After the Rain and also an outstanding portrayal of Dr Rossi in 'Strapless'. I first saw Mr Clarke, who was a nervous young dancer, in Symphonic Variations (full of promise). He has since grown into a charismatic, danseur noble. So good to see also David Donnelly, Tomas Mock, Matthew Ball, Luca Acri, Téo Dubreuil, Solomon Golding being featured in challenging roles. All stepped up to the plate impressively, ensuring us that the future of the Royal Ballet remains bright with these young men in its ranks. However, my disappointment was how underused Yasmine Nagdhi has been after her stunning Juliet (with Ball's Romeo) and for simply being outstanding in everything she dances. She is principal dancer material. I do hope she is not being placed on the back burner.
    I am looking forward to the forthcoming 'The Winter's Tale' with alternate casts.

    • alex responded on 11 March 2016 at 9:18pm

      I agree about Miss Yasmine Naghdi. I have noticed too how underused she has been all this Season, and especially after her critically acclaimed Juliet debut. I do hope she will stay on with the RB as I am sure there are many international companies who would love to have her.

  16. Manon1753 responded on 22 February 2016 at 8:31pm Reply

    The Triple Bill is a bit like a taster menu: it allows you to see different sorts of ballets and to decide for yourself what you might like and what you might NOT like. So here I goes: I didn't get the first half of After the rain but loved the second half (the pdd) - possibly a killer for the dancers, but what a show! Strapless was visually stunning and well thought out, but I found the choreography boring and the telling of the tale, in so far as I actually understood it (can't afford that expensive programme), was slow, perhaps because there wasn't much to tell. Dancers were fab. Golden Hour is something I would definitely want to see again: full of inventive, musical dancing. In a way, Wheeldon and Millepied (whose work I saw two days later at the Opéra in Paris) share the same approach: somewhat bland music which doesn't tax the listener (and bores me), but doesn't challenge the choreographer either. There are other, "abstract" choreographers who offer more exciting fare visually and musically: from van Manen in Grosse Fuge, via Kylian in Sinfonietta to Robbins with Goldberg Variations - or Moves. But I'll be back for Golden Hour - and that is what triple bills are about : discovery.

  17. Alistair Jones responded on 23 February 2016 at 7:34pm Reply

    An enjoyable evening's ballet, but I must admit the new "Strapless" was disappointing and not helped by Turnage's rather thick and turgid score. "After the Rain' was lovely with a great PDD from Nunez and Soares. For me the highlight of the evening was "After the Golden Hour" with an extraordinary cast of RB stars. Fabulous dancing in this and good to see 2 younger, less experienced but very fine young couples dancing as well. The "crazy" dance for Sambe and Acri was a joy.

  18. I enjoyed the Wheeldon works very much. I thought Strapless was very good - I saw the first night cast with Watson, Osipova, Ball and Bonelli. Probably the only thing I didn't like about it (which is a very minor point) was the title! I've seen a lot of new works at Covent Garden, Sadler's Wells and other venues, and actually Strapless ranks among the better and more interesting premieres. If you don't go expecting as many steps as Polyphonia or DGV, there is much to enjoy. I also wonder if one's enjoyment varies according to where you watch it (I have noticed this with ballets as varied as Onegin, Scenes de Ballet and Romeo & Juliet)- we were quite near the stage but at the side, so it was great for seeing all the expressions. Watson, Osipova and McNally were so expressive at telling the story. I see the critics in the papers were mostly harsh about it- but then again, Kenneth MacMillan had similar reactions and his ballets are now well loved and sought after in New York, Paris, Melbourne, St Petersburg, Milan, etc.

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