Tony Tanner’s Charlatan
Russian Ballet’s controversial founding father brought to life
This article is from 2010.
The life and times of Russian ballet’s undisputed godfather, Sergei Diaghilev, is a fascinating story, riddled with controversy, rule bending and boundary pushing. Here Diaghilev recounts his legacy from beyond the grave, no doubt spicing things up a bit for the sake of flair. A lone chair on an otherwise pitch black stage is a setting suited to only the most formidable of actors, but Tony Tanner makes the throne his own, coming alive in his camp, bitchy, wise-cracking portrayal of the Ballet Russes’ founding father.
This is a stream of consciousness moulded to follow an approximate storyline as Tanner’s charming Diaghilev chucks in his two cents-worth on his own intriguing life. Loquacious and eloquent, no holds are barred as he charts his journey from law student to ballet impresario via respected art critic, peppering his tale with anecdotes about the lovers along the way, most notably ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and his sad descent into schizophrenia. Witty and interesting, Tanner is completely engaging and practically perfect for a role such as this.
Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until 29 Aug (not 16, 23), 5.30pm, £12 (£11).