Peaky Blinders The Redemption of Thomas Shelby

“An extraordinary 5-star spectacle of a show ”

Coming out of a show practically speechless doesn’t bode well for a reviewer, however after contemplating what I saw at the Birmingham Hippodrome, I am still pretty amazed and blown away by the extraordinary 5-star spectacle of a show!

Now of course, Peaky Blinders is a hugely successful TV programme created by Steven Knight which is something of folklore in Birmingham and has many adoring fans which could be seen by the amount of ‘Peaky Blinder’ caps worn by the audience.  Knight seems to have the golden touch when it comes to incredible and powerful drama, something that works so well on stage.

Under the Direction of Benoit Swan Pouffer who also choreographed the piece, the premise is Thomas Shelby and his story from being released from the Army as “dead inside”.  We see various parts of the TV programme condensed into much smaller sections throughout the show which deal with his relationship with Grace and her death (I’m sure these are no spoilers for any avid fan!), his mental breakdown and ultimately his redemption.

Thomas Shelby is portrayed by Guillaume Quéau.  The persona of Shelby is extremely cool, brooding and sexy…...Quéau ticks every single box.  During Shelby’s breakdown, the talent from Quéau is clear to see and incredibly moving and powerful.  His relationship with Grace (Naya Lovell) was full of love and this shone on stage between the two performers.  Every movement together was like watching one person, they were so connected and in tune with each other sharing some really beautiful moments.

The matriarch of the family, Polly is played by Angélique Blasco with captivating stage presence.  Blasco was able to portray Polly as the feisty, no nonsense and frankly quite scary woman who was such a big part of the Shelby family.

This show is a feast for the eyes, but also for the ears.  The band is made up of just 3 musicians, Yaron Engler (Drums/Percussion/Vocals), James Douglas (Cello/Bass/Vocals) and The Last Morrell (Vocals/Guitar/Keys).  The bass is low and powerful reverberating through your body, adding to the drama unfolding on stage.  Composer Roman Gianarthur has really understood the assignment and from the heavy rock songs to the lighter folk type music each song has its place in every scene.  The sound on the night was everything it needed to be, powerful, dramatic and impactful. Of course, the most famous song associated with Peaky Blinders, Red Right Hand by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds features and brings an air of familiarity to the audience.

Each directorial decision made is first class, from the impressive staging by Moi Tran, the costume design by Richard Gellar and the lighting design by Natasha Chivers, all these elements combined make this a standout show.  From the smoke blown onto the stage to create a mysterious and dark atmosphere, to the incredible lighting during Thomas Shelby’s breakdown section with bright white strip lights surrounding the many beds on stage, that in certain glances provide a blue/green/red light…..so clever and so effective.

Each and every member of the cast deserves a mention for their unwavering energy, however special mentions go to Musa Motha as Barney, an amputee who glides effortlessly around the stage, to Dylan Tedaldi as the Factory Foreman who gives a wonderfully animated performance.

I am so glad that this show has made a return to the Birmingham Hippodrome where it premiered last year.  I left feeling proud to be a Brummie and in awe of the whole Rambert Dance company who really are visionaries and masters of their craft.

This show was reviewed on the 23rd May 2023.  Peaky Blinders The Redemption of Thomas Shelby runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the 27th May 2023.  Tickets available here: Rambert Dance in Peaky Blinders – Birmingham Hippodrome

Photo credit: Johan Persson

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