***Contains spoilers – most of you will already know this famous story and we find it best to know the story before watching a ballet***
This week, the English National Ballet is in town performing Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon. With Jurgita Dronina as Manon, Isaac Hernandez as Des Grieux and Ken Saruhashi as Lescaut.
For those of you that do not know the story of Manon, here’s a quick summary. Young, penniless student, Des Grieux meets the beautiful Manon and they fall in love. Manon’s brother, Lescaut has other ideas and persuades Manon to choose the wealthy Monsieur GM instead. Lescaut makes a bargain with Monsieur GM but before he can introduce him to Manon, she has run off to Paris with Des Grieux. They have a passionate affair before Monsieur GM and Lescaut arrive and Manon is enticed to becoming the wealthy man’s mistress; Des Grieux is left distraught. In Act II Des Grieux is looking for Manon and is convinced to cheat at a poker game to get Monsieur GM’s Money and the lovers run off again and prepare to escape Paris. They are interrupted by Monsieur GM, a beaten Lescaut and armed policemen, panic ensues, Lescaut is killed and Manon is arrested. Act III takes you to New Orleans where Manon has been deported with other prostitutes to be sold as servants. Des Grieux has followed Manon to try to protect her but the Gaoler has taken an interest in Manon and forces her to please him. Des Griex breaks in, kills the Gaoler and the lovers flee. Lost in the Louisiana swamp, they are trapped, delirious and haunted, eventually the strain and anxiety is too much for Manon who dies in her lover’s arms.
As with most ballets, it is a simple story of love and loss which makes it fairly easy to follow what is happening which of course in ballet is portrayed only through the dance without dialogue or song. The dancing truly was mesmerising and there were some incredibly talented dancers on stage. From the leads to the artists of the company, each character was a joy to watch and they all played a critical part in the story and setting the scene.
The stage was one of the simplest sets that I’ve seen but was very effective with huge backdrops, a few props, lighting, smoke and stunning costumes. The orchestra were fantastic and as always at Milton Keynes Theatre, the sound was tremendous!
A highly recommended ballet whether you’re a ballet old-timer or a newbie, you will thoroughly enjoy it.
For tickets, head to www.atgtickets.com