As a fan of Mary Shelley’s novella, I was drawn to see the Royal Ballet’s new Frankenstein. I must say I was sceptical about the transposition of the story into a ballet and, further, into a full-length work. Are three act ballets not a thing of the past? Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein is so entertaining that I must really rethink my suspicions on the format.
John Macfarlane’s stage design are – overall – sophisticated. The structures, more operatic than they are balletic, are reminiscent of drawings of neo-classical buildings. The anatomy theatre is a half-cut shell, like perspective drawing of the time.
Choreographically, the sequences where the Creature dances alone disappointed me a little. Steven McRae was wonderful in the role. I would have wanted more distortion and less balletic lines, at least at the beginning. He is indeed a human infant, but a DIY one, who might have some issues. Was he not Victor’s first patchwork? I found his development, which culminated in the ball scene, fitting, though he lingers on a little too long after Victor’s suicide, like those characters in operas who never want to die.
A story of psychological depths on the consequences of rejection and love deprivation, behind Scarlett’s successful ballet is a large team effort, in which the dancers' fluid interpretations are near perfect. More than the written words themselves, it was the dramatic power of the story that contributed to the novella's fame, and so it is fitting to have a (second) danced version. I would hurry book a seat. I promise, I will no longer look at full length ballets with suspicion.
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