”Peaky Blinders” is brought to the stage: ‘Sometimes people can be intimidated by dance’

Guillaume Queau (alternate Tommy) in rehearsals
Guillaume Queau (alternate Tommy) in rehearsals
© Johan Persson
The Peaky Blinders dance show is a must for fans of the hit television series – but will also appeal to audiences who have never seen the programme, say the team behind the new production which premieres at Birmingham Hippodrome in September.

Written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, and choreographed by Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer, Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby will reveal a new chapter in the family’s adventures.

“It tells the story of Tommy Shelby and Grace and the brothers but from a different perspective,” says Knight. “People who watched the series will recognise some parts and some parts will be new to them. It’s picking the story up just before series one began at the end of the First World War.

“But also, if we are doing our job right, which I think we are, you can come to this show not knowing even who Tommy Shelby is and you will know quite quickly who these people are, what they represent and what this story is. It’s a love story as well as the story of a group of brothers who are damaged by war and I think that is very relatable.

“The challenge for me is to tell the story without dialogue and through movement and Benoit is one of the best choreographers in the world to do that.”

For Swan Pouffer, the production, which tours the UK following initial Birmingham dates with a stay at the Troubadour in Wembley Park, offers Rambert the opportunity to reach new audiences.

“One of the major focuses for Rambert is that people come to the theatre and see dance,” he says. “Sometimes people can be intimidated by dance so I was asking myself ‘how can I get these people into the theatre with something which is visceral and exciting?’ And Peaky Blinders is such a great opportunity with Steven, the maker of the original show, writing an amazing story.”

Knight and Swan Pouffer have worked together before. Rambert created a twelve-minute show for the Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival in Birmingham in 2019 and the company performed an excerpt of Swan Lake during series five.

Now they have ambitious plans for the stage show. “We want to take it beyond this tour,” says Knight. “We want to take it to New York and the United States, to Europe and tour it there because Peaky Blinders is as popular in Berlin as it is in Birmingham. We want to make the most of that and give people the chance to see it live.”

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