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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke


🎭 Carlos Acosta: On Before 

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 1TR

🗓 Tuesday 27th February 2024



Carlos Acosta is often regarded as dance royalty and it was a privilege to be invited to Theatre Royal Plymouth this week to see him perform in his new show On Before.

As the audience entered the auditorium we were greeted by the image of rainfall with accompanying sound effects which helped to build the anticipation for what was to come.

The piece began with some powerful imagry which was essentially still motifs under spotlights. These motifs were repeated in various forms at certain points throughout the performance.

Carlos Acosta danced alongside Laura Rodríguez and together they told the story of a couple who embark on a doomed relationship. The chemistry between the two is undeniable and they have a distinct understanding of one another's bodies, as well as a complete trust which is breathtaking to witness.

From the very start, the piece is instantly engaging and draws you in. It matters not whether the two are dancing in unison or performing a solo, the entire piece is mesmerising.

The story is broken down into the different stages of the relationship and each piece is so different. Having different choreographers for each section helps to create sensational dynamics and change whilst not deviating from the central storyline.

The way each piece has an entirely different soundtrack is a sensational creative choice which works so well.

The utter elegance of the two performers captivates you and the inclusion of a local choir is just wonderful. Seen throughout, they only actually perform in the final moments of the story but they create a purposefully disorganised crowd in many scenes, which really shines a light on the beauty and precision of the dancers.

My favourite piece was probably Acosta's solo which closed act 1. You just couldn't take your eyes off him as he gave an outstanding performance and showed exactly how he earned his reputation.

The lighting design in On Before was a masterpiece. Elegantly used to enhance rather than distract. Chris Davey is a master of his craft and knows that sometimes less is more. The lighting was simple but exquisite. Likewise the video and graphic design was supurb.

The only thing that prevented me from giving the full 5 stars what that I felt there was a lack of emotion. Although I loved most things about it, there were moments where I didn't really care about the journey and this slightly dulled my overall enjoyment.

There is no denying however that this is a sophisticated piece of dance and the company more than deserved the rapturous standing ovation they received.

Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.

My ticket for this performance of Carlos Acosta: On Before was gifted by the Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to watch the show in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the content of my review or the star rating given.


Carlos Acosta and Laura Rodríguez


Miguel Altunaga; Kim Brandstrup; George Céspedes (with Carlos Acosta); Estudio 50; Russell Maliphant; Raúl Reinoso; William Tuckett; Yury Yanowsky; Zenaida Yanowsky (with Carlos Acosta)

RUNNING TIME (approx):

1 hour 35 minutes, including interval

The Theatre Royal Plymouth is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the country. Their mission is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue offers three performance spaces of various sizes, the largest being The Lyric which accommodates the big touring productions. The Drum and The Lab are smaller, intimate spaces and often offer pioneering productions.


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