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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke


🎭 Swan Lake - Birmingham Royal Ballet

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Wednesday 15th March 2023



Last night I was at the Theatre Royal Plymouth for my first ever viewing of a performance by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Swan Lake is a favourite of mine, especially as I am a huge fan of the music by Tchaikovsky.

Having seen a production of Swan Lake in the past which I absolutely fell in love with, I thought no other could ever compare but the company of Birmingham Royal Ballet excelled my expectations on every level with a performance that was a picture of sophisticated grace.

From the moment the orchestra began playing the beautiful music and the curtain rose I was enchanted by the elegant and technically pleasing performance.

Production Image of Swan Lake

The piece is broken into four acts, with the first two setting up the story which really picks up the pace for the final two acts. It is a lavish production with the sets, costumes and lighting just as stunning as the dancers who performed the piece.

The stars of the show are of course the swans and cygnets who danced with synchronised precision throughout. The dance of the cygnets which was performed by Olivia Chang Clarke, Karla Doorbar, Tessa Hogge and Hannah Martin was a standout moment from act 2. The unison between them was faultless and received rapturous applause from the audience.

The swans were led by two maidens Amelia Thompson and Lucy Waine who were breathtaking as they gracefully engulfed the stage. The opening of act 4 was sublime as the curtain rises to reveal a fog on the stage from which the swans magically appear. This was one of the standout moments from the performance and will stay with me for a long time.

Production Image of Swan Lake

Momoko Hirata danced the part of Odette/Odile and was perfection. Her elegance shone from the stage and I watched in awe as she gracefully moved through the story. There were audible gasps from the audience as she performed, especially during her pirouettes which made me dizzy just watching her! She was absolutely mesmerising from start to finish.

The part of Prince Siegfried was dance with utter precision by Mathias Dingman who was a pure joy to watch perform. He was masterful and graceful in equal measures and seemed to defy gravity with his amazing capabilities.

With such an impressive company its difficult to pick out a favourite but I think I would have to give that accolade to Gus Payne who danced as Benno, friend of Prince Siegfried. His energy and charisma oozed from the stage and his technical abilities were fantastic. He really shines in act 1 and then unfortunately only makes small appearances throughout the rest of the performance. However he left a significant mark with his performance that when he appeared during the curtain call the audience went wild with appreciation.

Production Image of Swan Lake

The saying goes that you are only as strong as your weakest link, but there is not one weak link within this company which made for a truly breathtaking theatrical experience. It's difficult to name all of the company individually but I would like to give mentions to Reina Fuchigami and Rachele Pizzillo who danced beautifully as Courtesans and Jonathan Payn who was wonderfully wicked as Baron Von Rothbart.

I'm not sure that Tchaikovsky's classic has ever looked quite this good on the stage and Plymouth is blessed to be able to host Birmingham Royal Ballet at the theatre. The choreography by Lev Ivanov, Marius Petipa and Peter Wright is wondrous to witness and when performed by dancers of this calibre it's hard to find a single fault.

Production Image of Swan Lake

Swan Lake continues at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 18th March. Tickets are still available for all performances but are extremely limited. Head to to check availability and book tickets.

Birmingham Royal Ballet will be back in Plymouth with Black Sabbath - The Ballet in October this year and The Sleeping Beauty in March 2024. Tickets for these shows are on sale on the Theatre Royal website. Based on last nights performance, I'll definitely be booking tickets to see these performances.

Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.

My tickets for this performance were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to the Press Night to review the production. The fact that my tickets were gifted played no part in my star rating for this review.

Production Image of Swan Lake


Odette/Odile: Momoko Hirata

Prince Siegfried: Mathias Dingman

The Queen Mother: Ellis Small

Baron von Rothbert: Jonathan Payn

Benno: Gus Payne

RUN TIME (approx)

Act I 32 minutes; pause 3 minutes; Act II 32 minutes; Interval 20 minutes; Act III 39 minutes; Interval 15 minutes; Act IV 20 minutes

The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth 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 is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West.


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