BWW Reviews: THE RIOT OF SPRING, Tramway, Glasgow, May 10 2013


In 1913, Igor Stravinsky debuted The Rite of Spring at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Appalled by the ugly choreography and experimentations with music, the audience rioted.

One hundred years later and playwright Rob Drummond has worked with a cellist and a dancer to create a piece of theatre that fuses dance, narrative and music in an attempt to honour (though not recreate) this controversial ballet. It is based on the original structure of Stravinsky's piece but updated to question current attitudes to art and politics. With Stravinsky's original composition subtitled Scenes from Pagan Russia, Drummond's is similarly subtitled Scenes from Secular Britain.

In the introduction, a narrative between the three performers, they explain the history behind The Rite Of Spring. Due to copyright, they cannot reproduce the music. They can't even sample the music. They could recreate the dance element; however, none of the performers have the technical ability. They are free to describe the story of the original ballet, that a virgin girl is offered as a sacrifice, forced to dance until her death.

The rest of the performance is a bizarre and slightly disjointed affair. The choreography is clumsy but this is intentional. The score is downright awful in places, but once again that is the point. Drummond has set out to recreate some of the emotions felt at that 1913 Paris performance. In an attempt to give the audience something to relate to, the show also addresses what caused the 2011 London riots. With fantastic use of lighting, this is the area of the performance which really excels.

Seven members of the audience were lured to the stage with promise of free beer. They got their beer, but also had to choreograph a dance routine while Drummond heckled them from the seats. While entertaining, this section seemed quite out of place with the rest of the performance.

Overall The Riot Of Spring made for an enjoyable hour of theatre. My interest did wane slightly during some of the dance sequences, which isn't ideal in such a short performance. However the piece did end on a very strong note and has some brilliant ideas.

Updates from Rob Drummond can be found on his twitter account.

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