Flamenco Festival, Sadler's Wells, London
At Swim Two Boys, Riverside Studios, London

In case of power failure: deploy the man-eating matron and a tipper-load of bricks

Every February for the past nine years, the Sadler's Wells Flamenco Festival has endeavoured to beam some Spanish sun into chilled, grey souls. In the early days the components were predictable.

There would be a night with a singer in the spotlight, another with guitar. Various upcoming dancers would explore flamenco fusion, and there would be one big, slick, theatrical humdinger with stadium sound and legions of heel-drumming frill-flappers.

This year's line-up strikes a quieter note, celebrating the poet and folklorist Federico Garcia Lorca, murdered at the age of 38 only one month into the Spanish Civil War. Presumably it was the old-school purism of bailaora Manuela Carrasco that made the link with Lorca, he having believed Spain could only thrive if it paid attention to its cultural roots.

But Carrasco had reckoned without the old-school power cut that wiped out the automated lighting cues for her show Suspiro Flamenco – cause for sighs indeed. The show went on, late and somewhat tentative – not Carrasco's style at all.

Sturdy of body and aquiline of profile, a stern veteran of four decades on stage, Carrasco doesn't so much perform as unleash herself. Not for her the polite preliminaries, the pretty, coiling arms. She gets down to business, hands jabbing, feet stamping out rhythms with a fury, and at one point taking a great swiping kick as if booting all her displeasure, all her frustration with that cussed gringo electricity supply, into the stalls.

Her attendants, all male, look as if they think she might eat them later. The burliest, a red-faced cantaor with enormous chops, unbuttons his suit to let out a bellowing "Aaaaay-eeeee", heavy as a tipper-load of bricks, and proceeds to hew chunks from a wall of sound. It would transform the experience to know what he was singing about. "My virgin queen wears a crown of light" or "you murder my sleep, you spawn of a whore"? Note to Sadler's Wells: if opera can be surtitled as a matter of course, why not flamenco?

Distilling an epic novel to a single visual idea might also seem to negate the power of words, but this becomes a selling point in At Swim Two Boys, a dance version of the best-selling Irish novel by Jamie O'Neill. Set at the time of the Easter Rising in 1916, it follows the fate of two teenagers whose impotence in the face of world events is countered by a growing sexual bond. The set is a 12ft wall from which water trickles constantly, slowly filling the shallow trough of a stage, its sound lulling and disturbing by turns as the story progresses.

Except that there barely is a story. Boy loves boy. Boys frolic in sea, Gene Kellys in republican kilts and work boots. One boy dies, something to do with a stolen pistol. End of story.

Daniel Connor and Murilo Leite D'Imperio are terrific performers, fearless, fit (eat your heart out Mr Wet-Shirt Darcy). The live music on accordion and pipes is stirring. But the piece lacks background as well as incident. The few historic images projected on the wall are tantalising. In this case less isn't more, it's undernourished.

Flamenco Festival (0844 412 4300) to 19 Feb; 'At Swim Two Boys' (020-8237 1111) to 25 Feb, then touring

Dance Choice

Could this be, as is claimed, the first new dance to come out of France since the can-can? Electro, a streetdance style with fast arm and hand movements, is the basis of the eight-man show Electro Kif currently on a 12-venue UK tour. Nottingham Playhouse (Mon & Tue), Lowry, Salford (Wed & Thu), Bradford Alhambra (Sun 19 Feb) and touring.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence