Review: Rambert Dance’ Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby

Rachel & Seren Howells visit Wales Millennium Centre’s Donald Gordon Theatre to review a full-on Peaky Blinders’ dance experience from Rambert Dance.

Written and adapted for the stage by Peaky Blinders’ creator Steven Knight, Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby opened at Wales Millennium Centre on Tuesday evening.

The new dance theatre show directed and choreographed by Rambert Dance’s Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer, starts out in the trenches of Flanders at the climax of The Great War. On stage atmospherics and lighting create a haze of smoke revealing random body parts across the stage. Filled with wonderous choreography that incorporates fighting through the dance medium, the action becomes very real as a group of 5 soldiers make it out of the war together.

Following this, we meet the Shelby family and watch them navigate the decisions that determine their fate. We watch Tommy who becomes infatuated by a mysterious newcomer, Grace and see their love story develop. As Tommy builds his empire, Grace operates as an undercover agent for Special Branch on a mission to get close to the heart of Tommy’s gang. A trail of turmoil lies ahead in true Peaky Blinders fashion.

A completely immersive experience, Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby is a natural progression from cult TV drama to dance showcase. Both lighting and sound are utilised in fun and creative ways, particularly as it enhances the performers dance work. The use of dry ice completely transforms the cleverly designed stage settings, creating dynamic atmospherics amongst the story’s various locations.

I loved the opening of the second half. Benoit Swan Pouffer’s interpretation of opioid drug use was phenomenal, with the experience of being dragged into drug fueled haze phenomenally represented on stage.

The score is outstanding, starting with a vibrant rock soundtrack that immediately catches our attention.  The band, which only consisted of 3 members provide a full-on sound and quite often join the dancers on stage demonstrating that they are playing live.

Creative choreography utilises partner work throughout the show and is totally captivating!  No performer took a break from the beginning until the interval and again the second half, meaning they didn’t get their well-deserved applause until the climax. This added to the show’s immersive nature, frequently making me feel I was the only person watching the on-stage action.

Featuring a phenomenal and committed cast with an awesome live band this Peaky Blinders dance experience is unmissable whether you are familiar with the cult TV series or a newcomer.

It continues at Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday March 25. Visit the website for ticket availability.

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