Merlin is the perfect excuse for the whole family to return to the theatre

Merlin from the Northern Ballet

Merlin from the Northern Ballet - Credit: Photo Emma Kauldhar

If you’re looking for a sign to go back to the theatre, this is it.  

The Northern Ballet’s Merlin opened at the Norwich Theatre Royal this week to the genuine delight of its audience.  

Without walking face-first into a cliché, this tale of wizardry was pretty magical.  

The story is based around two battling kingdoms with young sorcerer Merlin caught between them.  

Antoinette Brooks-Daw, Kevin Poeung, Filippo Di Vilio and Andrew Tomlinson in Merlin

Antoinette Brooks-Daw, Kevin Poeung, Filippo Di Vilio and Andrew Tomlinson in Merlin. Photo Emma Kauldhar - Credit: Emma Kauldhar

Now I’m a fan of the traditional ballets – the Nutcrackers, Swan Lakes and Giselles of this world – so I did have some misgivings about whether this would be a ‘proper’ ballet.  

But the fact that the audience were thrown into this plot without having any preconceptions about what to expect entirely worked in its favour.  

And because of that, I reckon this is the perfect ballet for little ones and first-timers to enjoy. 

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The staging of this piece was the best I’ve seen from the Leeds-based company, with the audience never knowing what’s coming next.  

Ashley Dixon in Merlin

Ashley Dixon in Merlin - Credit: Emma Kauldhar

Whether it’s a dragon with smoke whispering out of its jaws or sparks flying off a blacksmith’s hammer this is a visual delight which will be enjoyed by all.  

The costume design really is lovely too – with themes of gold and blue bleeding into black as the plot gets darker.  

The production of this show is now on par with the likes of Matthew Bourne - I hope they can keep up the standard.  

Kevin Poeung and Ashley Dixon in Merlin.

Kevin Poeung and Ashley Dixon in Merlin. - Credit: Emma Kauldhar

Stand out performances come from Minju Kang as the Lady of the Lake and Aerys Merrill.  

What I’ve always loved about the Northern Ballet is its lifts and pas de deux choreography - it’s a strength evident in this performance.  

Ms Kang barely has her feet on the stage as she is soars through the air with astounding strength and fluidity.  

Ms Merrill is a dancer I hope to see more of in the future – she’s got the sharpness of movement we usually see in companies like Rambert which gives her performance a more modern feel.  

An honourable mention also has to go to Sarah Chun as Morgan whose musicality makes her impossible to ignore.  

Merlin will be at the Theatre Royal until Saturday – tickets are still available.  

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