Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby is a dance show by Rambert based on the hit BBC TV series of the same name.
I have to admit, though it is probably sacrilege for someone from the West Midlands but I hadn’t watched the TV series fully before going to see this (I had watched series 1 but none of the follow up series) however my dad was a fan of the TV show so we decided to go and watch this on it’s second run in Birmingham. Also my sister and her other half and my cousin all went to see it and gave it rave reviews during it’s opening run in 2022.
The show begins in the First World War where the men from the Shelby family are all soldiers and Thomas Shelby picked up a medal for gallantry.
Once they are back in Birmingham they return to running their protection and bookkeeping racket and Thomas Shelby is building his empire. Along the way he meets his wife Grace Shelby and the two begin a passionate love affair. However Grace is feeding information back to the police about his activities and the repercussions of their actions are far-reaching and many hearts are left broken along the way.
Heading into the show I was a bit unsure about how the story would be told as a dance show as I hadn’t been to one before but the story is told brilliantly through the numbers.
My personal favourites was Grace’s introductory dance as well as Tommy’s dream sequence in the second half as well as the use of Red Right Hand, the theme song from the show by Nick Cave where the choreography for me resembled a music video and was so intricately choreographed and executed brilliantly.
The rest of the music included songs by Radiohead, Frank Carter and the Rattle Snakes and Wire as well as original songs commissioned for the show but all the music was cool and varied throughout.
The lighting was also very moody and created a very dark and eerie atmosphere and the brief voiceovers by James Douglas helps to create an even more foreboding atmosphere in the performance.
Whilst researching this review, I did come across a Guardian review of the original run of the show in Birmingham that whilst it expanded the reach of dance shows it was a case of style over substance which personally I disagreed with. In the review they stated “it’s all surface and no depth, a marketing person’s fantasy, not an engaging work.”
As mentioned before I hadn’t gone to a dance show before this one and neither had my sister and whilst it is true the Peaky Blinders brand was the reason for us going to see it I think we all came away with a feeling that we would want to see more dance shows which I think is important especially as theatres are recovering post-Covid.
Also judging from the standing ovation the crowd gave the show I would disagree that the audience didn’t feel anything or pick up any substance from the show. The Peaky Blinders TV show has become part of the identity of the West Midlands so seeing it in another medium has definitely been wonderful for the people in the area.
Unfortunately the shows run has now come to an end but if it is ever revived for another tour I would recommend going to see it and I will be keeping an eye out for any other shows from Rambert that are upcoming.