BalletBoyz: England on Fire at Sadler's Wells review- 'more of a flicker than a flame'

BalletBoyz: England On Fire (Photo: Supplied)
BalletBoyz: England On Fire (Photo: Supplied)

England on Fire is the newest creation by BalletBoyz, the internationally acclaimed and Olivier award-winning company led by Michael Nunn and William Trevitt.

Inspired by Stephen Ellcock and Mat Osman’s artbook of the same name, England on Fire brings together over 40 creative artists, including dancers, choreographers, a rock band, an instrumental ensemble and composers to share an 80 minute “visual journey through England’s psychic landscape”.

BalletBoyz started in 2000 as an all male dance company and having seen two of the company’s previous productions Them/Us and Deluxe, it was interesting to see that female dancers have now been added to the cast.

Dancer Artemis Stamouli is carried and plunged into each scene
Dancer Artemis Stamouli is carried and plunged into each scene

The show centres around an unnamed blonde female dancer (Artemis Stamouli) who is taken on a magical and anarchic journey through England’s history from its folk period, to the punk era to the present day.

The show opens with Stamouli alone on stage. She is greeted by the rest of the cast dressed in animal headdresses, Elizabethan pantaloons and puffball skirts, who twerk and twirl in varying formations.

The mood and time period continues to shift across 10 segments, accompanied by live music from folk to punk and everything in-between.

Multimedia images of prime ministers, monarchs, protest marches, sporting and entertainment highlights are projected onto a screen, while a rock band emerges from behind a giant St George’s flag.

Stamouli is carried and plunged into each scene, from the folklike segment Out of Darkness, choreographed by Ola Ince to the post punk Rebellion by Thick & Tight.

Creative directors Nunn and Trevitt have described England on Fire as one of their “most ambitious projects to date.”

The show certainly takes the audience through a multifaceted journey of England’s culture through both the ancient and modern world however the meaning is somewhat lost in the lack of cohesion in the show.

England on Fire has all of the ingredients to make a powerful gut wrenching piece, but this production ignited more of flicker than a flame.