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Review: Pleasure’s Progress @ the Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich, June 19

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Review: Pleasure’s Progress @ the Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich, June 19

ROH2 is the creative, experimental wing of the Royal Opera House. Tonight it premiered a new production, Pleasure’s Progress, not in London or New York but in Ipswich – possibly because it’s part of ROH2’s remit to get their art out to new, regional audiences – and it was both a pleasure to watch and progress for the arts locally.

An 80-minute tale of sex, boozing and gambling, and all the other pleasurable sins God put on this earth to mess us up, the story was a timeless narrative set in the 18th Century.

This was high art with its roots firmly in the earth, accessible to the common soul. To call it what it was – an opera – might well have misled, because people fear opera as they fear the unknown. To call it a tale of sex, wags ‘n’ bawds – which it also was – might well have led people to see it.  The marketing ploy worked; the house was packed and most enjoyed the crude, funny and worryingly familiar scenes on show.

Pleasure’s Progress was theatre well above the usual standard of regional programming dished up in British towns of Ipswich’s size and stature – the singing was incredible, the choreography poised and inspired, the writing intelligent and crisp.

My first DanceEast experience has ensured I revisit the Jerwood DanceHouse, and recommend it to my friends. I’m not sure if we have quite woken up yet, but brilliant productions like this are actually taking place in our sleepy town!

Engage and embrace Ipswich’s newly found status as a destination for diverse, contemporary art by swapping an evening down the pub for an evening at the theatre. You may be surprised at how similarly debauched the experience can be. HF


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