GISELLE: REMIX at The Pleasance, London | Review

Let’s talk about Giselle which, according to the English National Ballet website, is a haunting story of innocence and betrayal – a timeless tale about the redemptive power of love. Now, let’s talk about an anarchic, punk-reimagining of the classic ballet called Giselle: Remix which, following its premiere at the Royal Opera House, has arrived at the Pleasance.
Giselle Remix - Credit Ali Wright
If you know the story of Giselle, then be prepared for a major surprise with this production. If, like me, you do not know the story of Giselle, then prepare to have your mind blown by the production. It’s difficult to go into detail as the show is, in some ways almost impossible to adequately describe and is something that is a real experience rather than just a storytelling event.

Initially, it seemed to be a comedy with Kit Green coming onto the stage in a raincoat, wellies and plastic rain hat, but very quickly, it deepened into a compelling story using a mixture of lip-synching and dance with Green being joined by the Dance Troupe (Harri Eiffert, Elle Fierce, Spike King and Marie Astrid Mence) to take Giselle from her somewhat naïve belief in pure romance through to the realities of love, lust, queer hook-ups and heartbreak to an ending that reduced me to a blubbering wreck.

Laura Rose Moran-Morris’ costume designs were wide-ranging. From simple black underwear via, dainty negligees and a stunning opera cape to a rubber bondage suit that looked like the most uncomfortable thing anyone had ever worn. The costumes helped tell the story while giving the dancers the room and freedom to bring the wonderful choreography, by Royal Ballet Soloist Hannah Grennell in collaboration with the Dance Troupe Cast, to life

There were two particular highlights in the show for me. The first was a scene when Giselle’s mental belief in romance came up against the reality of rough sex. This could have been deeply disturbing but somehow it really worked and, in some ways, resonated with the old-fashioned romantic still inside me constantly being knocked back by the conversations – and occasional actions – of the ‘dating’ apps. The second, as already mentioned, was the ending which was, not just beautiful – and also one of my favourite YouTube soundtracks – but also a re-affirmation of hope that life is full of positive possibilities.

All told, I enjoyed Giselle: Remix much more than I thought I would based on the description on the website “A mixture of live performance art meets warehouse cabaret meets pop concert extravaganza”. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I fully appreciated or understood everything that happened but I did understand enough to appreciate the amazing skill that meant around seventy minutes after it started, I was loudly applauding a truly amazing theatrical event.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Hot off its instant sell-out premiere at the Royal Opera House, GISELLE: REMIX and its anarchic, punk-reimagining of the classic ballet returns to subvert this timeless story of love, loss, revenge, redemption and forgiveness.

In this queer, lip-sync cabaret retelling, Giselle is a hopeless romantic, raised on a diet of Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore 1990s rom-coms, who comes to realise that the real world of queer sex, hook-ups and heartbreak is a far cry from Hollywood’s happily-ever-after.

What follows is a journey through shame, assimilation, anger, acceptance and – finally – liberation and joy. All performed to a soundtrack of queer icons ranging from Judy to SOPHIE.

Jack Sears (@jackqueers)
Harri Eiffert (@harrijames_eiffert)
Elle Fierce (@ellellle)
Spike King (@spikeking)
Marie Astrid Mence (@marie_astrid_mence)

Created by Jack Sears and Hannah Grennell
Choreography by Hannah Grennell in collaboration with the Dance Troupe Cast
Produced by Molly McGeachin at The Project People
Executive Produced by Patrick Bone
Costume Design by Laura Rose Moran-Morris
Lighting Design By Lucy Adams
Consultant Set Design by Blythe Brett
Sound Design by Rhys Cook AKA Oberon White
Marketing Consultancy by Holly Adomah
PR by Kevin Wilson

GISELLE LATE produced by Patrick Bone
Photography by James Frederick Barrett

Patrick Bone, Molly McGeachin and The Pleasance present GISELLE: REMIX

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