In Review

English National Ballet's pirate romp Le Corsaire - reviews

The madcap swashbuckling escapism of ENB's pirate ballet will chase away the January gloom

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What you need to know

Critics are calling the English National Ballet's production of Le Corsaire, at the Coliseum, London, "a roaring, madcap success". The 19th Century ballet was originally created by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, and is loosely based on a poem by Lord Byron.

Le Corsaire (The Pirate) tells the story of Conrad, a pirate who falls in love a beautiful harem girl, Medora. When Conrad decides to take Medora for himself, he stirs up unrest and treachery among his fellow pirates.

The English National Ballet's production of Le Corsaire, staged by Anna-Marie Holmes, has been touring the UK since October. Sets and costumes are by Hollywood film designer Bob Ringwood (Batman, Alien 3, and Troy). At the Coliseum until 19 January.

What the critics like

"The production is a roaring, madcap success," says Clement Crisp in the Financial Times. This jolly, sped-up version is a romp where narrative whistles past as seen from a bullet train and the dancers work with tireless verve and huge enthusiasm.

This "swashbuckling escapism" is an antidote to January gloom, says Lindsey Winship in the Evening Standard. The whole thing looks fantastic, and there are lots of meaty dancing roles to show off the company, who all look like they're having a rollicking good time.

"Le Corsaire makes a sparkly post-Christmas treat, overflowing with colourful costumes, pirates, sumptuous scenery and dance party pieces," says Zoe Anderson in The Independent. Designer Bob Ringwood is the hero of the show, conjuring up an Arabian Nights fantasy of moonlit vistas and glittering palaces.

What they don't like

For a show nominally about pirates and slaves, "there's little emotional angst", says Keith Watson in Metro. This shipwrecked romance is technically impressive but skims the surface with no hidden depths.

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