Thursday, 12 February 2009

New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth. 24/6/08

Interior: Gallery moulding.



"A small company of three dancers and four musicians filled the stage as if they were performing at a much bigger location yet kept intact the intimacy of the venue.

With a programme of traditional flamenco performed with unconventional interpretations, they managed to transport the audience not to the tacky Spanish holiday resorts of the 1970s but to the darker heart of the Iberian gipsy soul.

The dances were packed full of energy (exhausting the audience as much as the performers) and displayed impeccable precision and timing. Mention must be given to guitarist Jesus Alvarez whose dexterity and musicianship were stunning."

Portsmouth News

DSCF1307 - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

The sad, fiery history of The Theatre Royal, as revealed by the missing half. This image was taken from approximately the position of the original backstage wall. The entire original stage, flytower and dressing rooms being destroyed in the fire of 1972.
The magnificent efforts of the theatre team over the years has not only reopened the house as a working venue, but also restored much of the decoration and fittings of the beautiful Matcham interior, one of the best acoustic spaces in British regional theatre, in our experience.

Thanks to Heather, Mike and all the team for making the day very simple, straightforward and creative.

Flamenco Express have played NTR five times since 1998, and it was obvious from the start that here was a venue which might have been made for flamenco. Apart from the acoustics, the intimacy of the galleries - as in all Matcham theatres - is a genuine aid to the performers, as is the spirituality of the vaulted auditorium.

The stage as a tablao - as a sounding board for flamenco purposes, is also excellent. Deep and crisp and even. June the twenty fourth wasn't the feast of St Stephen, but the NTR shone brightly that night, as it always does for us.

From an entirely selfish point of view, the added bonus of the NTR, compared with most other Matcham theatres, is the fact that because the only stage is the old forestage, there is no rake, which can sometimes be troublesome for our dancers. This is a direct result of the fire - and if that doesn't make the NTR a bona fide flamenco theatre, I can't think what does. It is a building which has suffered, and which was reborn out of fire through improvisation and determination. It doesn't take a gigantic suspension of disbelief for the audience and performer to tune in together to the spirit of such a space and relax into the business of making theatre.

Hopefully, when the final restoration is complete, it will stay same, only better.

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