Royal Opera House: new work for the Royal Ballet
Hot property on the ballet scene since his strikingly mature Asphodel Meadows, choreographer Liam Scarlett's work is now in the repertories of companies as varied as ENB, New York City Ballet, BalletBoyz: The Talent and Ballet Black.
A creator of sensuous movement with a penchant for the gothic, his narrative work has so far been consistently dark. His Hansel and Gretl was a truly nightmarish version of the sugary tale, and his Sweet Violets a convoluted but vivid exploration of the painter Walter Sickert and his obsession with Jack the Ripper.
Mary Shelley’s 19th century is the tale of a man who succeeds in creating life, only to be horrified by the being he has created. Critics have been wowed by the laboratory sets and backdrops of John Macfarlane's design. The dancers too have won acclaim for their character portrayal, in particular Federico Bonelli as Victor Frankenstein and Laura Morera as his love Elizabeth.
Stephen McRae, who played Scarlett’s Sandman to such terrifying effect, channels all his considerable malevolent talent as the Creature.
And yet, the reviews have been loudest in their criticism of Scarlett's storytelling. While you can rely on him to give his dancers testing choreography, the narrative has been called a 'monster mish mash', and a 'hash.'
At the heart of Shelley’s tragedy is the creature and his thwarted desire to love and be loved. But the monster, and McRae's portrayal, is sidelined in favour of the Victor-Elizabeth love story.
Music by Viscera composer Lowell Liebermann, another regular Scarlett collaborator, has divided opinion. But the critics are united on one question, after a stream of dubious story ballets this season - how was Scarlett, whose grasp of narrative control has been shaky in the past, allowed to tackle the awesome task of a three act ballet with no guidance?
Liam Scarlett: Royal Ballet’s bet for the future
Rumours have recently been confirmed that Liam Scarlett is the choreographer chosen to create a new Swan Lake for the Royal Ballet. There can hardly be a bigger vote of confidence in his abilities. But while few doubt his talent, let's hope Frankenstein will teach him, and the Royal, a valuable lesson on the importance of a good edit.
|What||Frankenstein, Royal Ballet|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
04 May 16 – 27 May 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£5 - 110|
|Website||Click here to go to the ROH's website|