Birmingham Royal Ballet - Triple Bill: Checkmate/Symphonic Variations/Pineapple Poll (Plymouth)
Leading Underground poster designer E McKnight Kauffer’s designs are stunning with red with orange slashes playing black and grey.
Jonathan Payn is doddering as the Red King and Jenna Roberts suitably attentive as his Queen although I did rather wish that the choreography mimicked chess moves and found the piece a little long and dated.
After a rather lengthy interval as the checkered flooring is lifted, is the short but beautifully fluid Symphonic Variations, Frederick Ashton’s signature work created in 1946. Danced to César Franck's score (with Jonathan Higgins in excellent form on the piano), six dancers take the stage for a deceptively simplistic classical ballet.
With no story line and no props, it is all about the dancers.
Closing the bill and changing the pace is John Cranko’s 1951 romp Pineapple Poll.
With Cesar Morales fleet of foot as the heartthrob Captain Belaye and Victoria Marr memorable as elderly chaperone Mrs Dimple, Pineapple Poll tells a tale of infatuation, hornpipes, cross dressing and happy endings.
Osbert Lancaster’s designs are cheerful and the ensemble enthusiastic. All in all a fun 40 minutes in which the story at times masks the technicality of the dance.
Philip Ellis conducts the excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia with great command and energy throughout.