Theatre Review: NORTHERN BALLET’S CASANOVA – The Lowry, Salford

Joseph Taylor and Minju Kang in Northern Ballet's Casanova. Photo Credit Emma Kauldhar

Joseph Taylor and Minju Kang in Northern Ballet’s Casanova. Photo: Emma Kauldhar

Enhanced perfectly by its opulent set and costume design, Northern Ballet’s CASANOVA is a sensual delight and a masterclass in balletic storytelling.

4 out of 5 stars

We all know the word Casanova; it’s thrown around when describing someone notorious for seducing women and having many lovers. The term originally comes from the Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova, and many will not know his story. Thankfully, Northern Ballet returns to The Lowry with his tale which explores the heart and mind of one of the world’s most notorious figures.

The Leeds based ballet company are well known for presenting a masterclass in balletic storytelling throughout every inch of their productions, and Kenneth Tindall’s CASANOVA is no exception. The set, costumes, lighting and choreography ooze passion and thoughtful depiction.

Casanova, a trainee priest, aspiring writer, polymath, and musician, is a man of many talents. Despite his confident allure, he is plagued with depression and insecurities that the world may never take him and his writings seriously. The twisting tale explores Casanova’s highs and lows as he ventures through 18th century Venice and Paris, captivating women and escaping capture for his possession of the ‘forbidden book’.

Northern Ballet dancers in Casanova. Photo Caroline Holden

Northern Ballet dancers in Casanova. Photo: Caroline Holden

Joseph Taylor is exceptional as the womanizer, delivering the perfect balance of power and seduction within his movement and character. Taylor seduces the masses with his exceptionally expressive grace. Like the many women, he draws the audience in and is a joy to watch throughout. Many scenes are highly sexual with lustful choreography, without feeling brutish or crude.

The large ballet sets always look amazing on The Lowry’s vast stage, and three pillars tower on stage throughout this production. Christopher Oram’s set design is complimented impeccably by Alastair West’s lighting design. The three pillars depict our journey through churches, prisons, and palaces, each with a subtle lighting change reflected from their looming presence that completely transforms the set. The pillars open to reveal mirrors, and then in act 2, beams shine to illuminate the stage, flooding the theatre with light. The mirrors are used greatly in the second act, suggesting a mirroring of Casanova’s deepest thoughts as we delve deeper into his heart and mind.

Oram’s costume designs nod to the period, the men’s pants and women’s lucid gowns enhancing and dancing to their own rhythms within the movement.

Joseph Taylor in Casanova. Photo Caroline Holden

Joseph Taylor in Northern Ballet’s Casanova. Photo: Caroline Holden

As expected with any Northern Ballet production, the large cast of dancers are exquisite. When the men take to sections in a group, their high leaps and powerful spirals are awe-inspiring, captivating the audience with their classical and refined techniques.

The story is rather hard to follow in contrast to other ballet productions, but piecing it together becomes much simpler with a read of the programme. However, it tends to jump around from scene to scene somewhat erratically, glazing quickly over some aspects. That said, this leaves the piece pacey and at a pleasant 2 hours, 5 minutes run time (approximately).

Northern Ballet’s CASANOVA is a sensual delight. This is classical ballet at its absolute finest, enhanced perfectly by an opulent set and costume design and a magnificent score.

Northern Ballet’s CASANOVA runs at The Lowry, Salford, until 21 May 2022.