If I asked you what combines Radiohead tracks, flat caps, ballet and Benjamin Zephaniah, would the obvious answer be Peaky Blinders? Rambert presents a UK tour of Rambert Dance in Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby, a piece of dance theatre written and adapted for the stage by creator Steven Knight, which ran at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, brought crime, lust, sin, and underground shenanigans to the streets of Auld Reekie.
Choreographed and directed by Rambert’s Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer, incorporating live music performing tracks from the TV show (notably Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’), narrated by poet Benjamin Zephaniah, the dance theatre adaptation has a winning formula for a night of fun, though there is something absent. Though punchy, athletic, and well-choreographed (particularly the final performance to the show’s theme tune), and by no means lacking in costume, or blaring live music (what a band!), there is just that lacking missing needed to bring it to life. And maybe this is where you realise that most of it hangs on Cillian Murphy and his brilliant performance of Thomas Shelby.
Though, don’t get me wrong. If you are a fan of the programme and have a strong desire to adorn yourself in a flat cap and tweed for a night out at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, you’ll be in your element. Evocative and emotional through a mix of dance influences and styles, both electrifying and poignant, this adaptation by one of the leading international dance companies is intended to bring new audiences to dance theatre. And with the atmospheric live band, bold narration, and tight, lively dance, their formula works somewhat. Just don’t expect to feel in the same way you do the show, as the pathos is skipped over.
More from Rambert Dance Company and Edinburgh Festival Theatre here.