Review: Cleopatra, Lyceum

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THE name Cleopatra conjures up for most an exotic femme fatale, brilliant and calculating, using her beauty for political ends.

And perhaps too a gloriously over-the-top feast of costume, sand and eyeliner.

Any cheesy sword and sandal-ness is deftly avoided in this stunning Northern Ballet production. A classy yet simple set allows us to focus on the dancers and brilliant choreography, slightly echoing Egyptian hieroglyphic stance. Costume is effective and Roman armour is portrayed well.

Martha Leebolt, in the lead, is an extraordinary force, conveying the personality, sensual allure and cunning of the queen, who courted celebrity appeal and a whiff of scandal.

The method of her death, with a snake bite, is the ballet’s beginning and is cleverly conveyed in human form by Kenneth Tindall. Serpent-like movements by dancers carry the theme through the flashback of Cleopatra’s triumphs and failures as she reflects.

We meet her loves, regal Javier Torres as Caesar and Tobias Batley as a waylaid Mark Antony, both dancing with great aplomb.

The score is fabulous and evocative. Even in ensemble pieces choreography is tight and challenging.

Perhaps it is not as easy to celebrate anyone - no one is a particularly ‘nice’ character but we fall under the spell.

On until Saturday. See for images.

Ann Beedham