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God’s Garden review at Repertory Birmingham

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This comes at the start of the British Dance Edition – an exciting four-day festival hosted by the DanceXchange in Birmingham, showcasing some of the best UK dance companies.

Arthur Pita has a reputation for producing surreal dance theatre and God’s Garden is no exception. This time he has taken on the theme of the prodigal son who jilts his bride on their wedding day and goes off to live a wild and debauched life, eventually returning to his ever-forgiving family.

Out of this sorry tale emerge two or three emotional duets danced by the son Nuno Silva and Valentina Golfieri, which are nuggets of pure gold. These rare moments draw us away from the mundane backdrop of village life.

The tale is complete with an 82-year-old dancing grandmother, Diana Payne-Myers and a blind Father Jose Manuel Figueira – his duet with the dead body of the grandmother will surely move you to tears. But it’s not all emotional heart wrenching – there is humour at every turn. We keep returning to mad moments of the jilted bride’s imagination, which brings welcome relief – if a bit odd at times.

The music is performed live on stage by guitarist Phil King and is based on Portuguese traditional folk music, which is sometimes quite mournful and at other times quite joyful. All the dancers sing well, particularly Silva, but the lasting impression of the evening is of the jilted bride dancing on her dead groom’s grave. Now that’s revenge.

Production Information

Repertory, Birmingham, February 3, then touring until February 16

Arthur Pita
Open Heart
Cast includes
Nuno Silva, Diana Payne-Myers, Lorena Randi, Jose Manuel Figueira, Valentina Golfieri
Running time
1hr 30mins
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