Review: Peaky Blinders – The Redemption of Thomas Shelby

by | Jan 19, 2023 | Reviews, Featured

Norwich Theatre Royal

The excitement was palatable as we were waiting to go into the auditorium, the number of people who dressed up and wore flat caps showed the impact the TV series had on people.

This show is inspired by Peaky Binders and a lot of the elements are there, however it is not the story from the series. Plus, this is a Rambert Production – which means it is a dance performance. This adds another dynamic.

We see the gang during the final moments of World War One and experience their horrific traumas from being in the trenches, but as they get back to normal life, Tommy is ruthless in building his reputation and growing his criminal empire and the gang, the Peaky Blinders gain notoriety, money and reputation. Tommy falls passionately in love with Grace, who is actually an undercover agent. There is heart ache, death, drama and plenty of fighting.

The very first scene sets the quality of the show and has you holding your breath as you’re trying to process this amazing sound and visual spectacle in front of you. We are in the war and they are fighting, dancing, on the front line, and we see Tommy and the gang fighting their own demons caused by the trauma of war. Pair this will the incredible live music, with the musicians on stage, it really did take your breath away. It was full on dramatic, thrilling and wonderful to watch and this carried on through to the end.

Due to the violent nature of Peaky Blinders there were of course plenty of fighting, death and killing scenes, all danced and choreographed amazingly well, whether it was a full gang scene or a one-on-one, the interpretation of the ferocity was there. This contrasted with the passionate love scenes of Tommy and Grace which were beautiful. Another fabulous scene was the surrealism of the opium house where everyone is certainly out of their minds on a substance.

The stage had a trench around it which allowed for different levels for the action to take place and there were a couple of openings near the musicians which were used. It added different levels for both the audience and the performers who could jump in, out, over the trench. There was so much to look at.

The dancing was stunning, athletic, contemporary and dazzling, they were able to portray a multitude of emotions, from trauma, psychotic episodes, love, heartache, passion, loyalty, devotion, anguish – all the range.

The sound track was like an eclectic rock concert which added so much depth to the performance as your ears were flooded with the emotion at the same time as your eyes, a full on immersive experience. The score included incredible original tracks and some known tracks such as Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds ‘Red Right Hand’ and Radiohead’s ‘Climbing up the Walls’. There is more to add… there were narration pieces to either help move the story along, or to increase the intensity of the drama – some were by the voice of Benjamin Zephaniah who played Jeremiah in the TV series.

Costumes and props were superb, the attention to detail included the flash of metal at the front of their caps. There were gunshots, smoke, strobing, flames, everything added to a spectacular performance which was full of drama, grit and thrills.

Definitely a highly-recommended show, even if you are not a dance lover, this will open your eyes.

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  • Hayley Clapperton

    Hayley is a business co-owner working too many hours so it's a good job she's passionate about it. Hayley's down time is music, music and music of all types and she enjoys going to gigs, listening to new bands and breathing in the energy it creates.

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