Music and Vision homepage




RODERIC DUNNETT writes about 'Arthur Part 1: Arthur Pendragon'
in the light of the recent London première


<< Continued from page 2

David Justin as Uther Pendragon and Sabrina Lenzi as Igraine. (c) Bill CooperThe problem with Arthur, however, was Bintley's comic-strip approach to storytelling. While the lighting department (Peter Mumford) served up a running sequence of dramatic cyclorama pinks and blues, greens and yellow, the narrative rather limped along, prefaced by a garish and slightly spurious flurry of rape and violence, moving on to Uther (David Justin) and Igraine (Sabrina Lenzi), not to mention her athletic but overshowy cuckolded husband (Wolfgang Stollwitzer), flickering forward to Arthur's boyhood, the introduction of the charming Guinevere, the incestuous threat from his half-sister, and finally the suitably grotesque but perhaps ineptly expressionistic birth of Arthur's odious bastard and future destroyer, Mordred : another of those moments that hit you in the stomach, yet seemed, in its graphic caricature of good and evil, gratuitous surface parody rather than imagery possessed of any depth.

Part I, then, proved a mixed bag : dramatically far less incisive than Edward II; visually alluring, yet somehow intellectually trite and verging on the infantile populist, an error to which the late Christopher Gable's widely popular, narrative-focussed last works for Northern Ballet Theatre were also prone. It's good for ballet to pack the aisles - but then the ideas have to be as good as, say, The Lion King.

Bintley has a chance to pull things round with Arthur Part II, early next year. McCabe's score remains his trump card : the woodwind writing, in particular - dark and light by turns - has countless stunning moments, and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia (music director : Barry Wordsworth) have at last, in Edward and Arthur, a challenge worthy of their considerable, though generally unsung, abilities.


Copyright © 12 June 2000 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK




Joseph Cipolla as Merlin. (c) Bill Cooper

 << Music & Vision home             The Philosopher's Stone >>