Theatre Review: Merlin

Kevin Poeung in Merlin. Photo Emma Kauldhar

On Saturday evening Nottingham’s beautiful Theatre Royal played host to the world premiere of Northern Ballet’s production of Merlin by Drew McOnie. The atmosphere of the audience was buzzing with anticipation especially with the additional excitement of knowing we would be among the first in the world to see this show.

Javier Torres in Merlin. Photo Emma Kauldhar

What stood out to me right from the very beginning was the wonderful live orchestra, the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, consisting of 27 players, who were conducted by Jonathan Lo and led by Geoffrey Allan, they were simply superb and I would’ve quite happily just been there to listen to them. However it was the ballet which we were all there to see. It was a beautiful ballet, however for me it was let down by a lack of clear story telling. I am still quite new to the world of ballet and perhaps have been spoilt by Matthew Bourne productions which almost feel like there is vocal dialogue within the ballets, therefore I felt slightly lost in some scenes of Merlin.

Kevin Poeung and Ashley Dixon in Merlin. Photo Emma Kauldhar

The props and set design were epic and detailed which made it a feast for the eyes, particularly the dragon and use of special effects. No one could argue against the talent of the exquisite ballet dancers (particularly Kevin Poeung as Merlin) and the pleasing aesthetics however the choreography lacked an innate story to enable the audience to understand what was occurring in each scene and allow changes of scene to be fluid. That being said it was still enjoyable to watch and appreciate as a piece of live art and for those that are finely tuned to the world of ballet it may even be a good story!

For your opportunity to be one of the first to see this production of Merlin please visit it is showing until Saturday 2nd October 2021.

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