Review: ‘Genuine beauty’ ★★★ Voices of the Amazon, Sadler’s Wells

The fledgling theatre company, Sisters Grimm scored a tremendous success with their stage spectacular Inala, which featured the voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo earning a Grammy nomination in the process. For their latest show, the company – founded by composer Ella Spira and dancer Pietra Mello-Pittman – has instead turned their attentions to South America for a dance musical which attempts to highlight the plight of the Amazon rainforest, through the voices of it’s inhabitants.

It’s an important, but tricky issue to tackle and although the production, which showcases a wealth of talent, has its heart in the right place, it never really delves deep enough.

Ella Spira’s music establishes a fairytale-like feeling, with Latin rhythms fused with soaring melodies and Kay Elizabeth’s powerful vocals harness the passion of the cause, while Jeremy Iron’s (in a prerecorded narration) guides the audience through the story of a water spirit who must find a cure for her dying sister.

We meet a menagerie of forest creatures along the way and Helen Pickett’s choreography, which is a mix of ballet and capoeira, gives some charm and humour to the animals whose future is under threat from deforestation.

It also contains a touching love story, but with a focus on dance and with most of the lyrics in Portuguese, it gets a bit lost in its endeavor to deliver the fable while attempting to maintain the moral message.

That said, the dancing is mesmerising and there’s a genuine beauty to the musical composition, which captures the magic and intrigue of the ancient forest.

Voices of the Amazon at Sadler’s Wells until 8 July 

Photo by Johan Persson

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