What do you get if you combine a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale with the choreography of Javier De Frutos and music from electronic pop duo the Pet Shop Boys? The answer may not be the most incredible thing but it is certainly a well produced, slick, enjoyable thing. The Boys are already something of a national institution and in this fruitful collaboration they do not disappoint, producing some of their best music in a while.

© Hugh Glendinning
© Hugh Glendinning

The three act ballet follows the strong narrative line of Anderson’s story. A king holds a competition to decide which of his subjects can make the most incredible thing: the winner will earn half his kingdom, and the hand of his daughter. Our hero Leo makes a magical clock and is about to win the contest until the evil soldier Karl smashes the clock, an act that is judged as even more incredible. The Princess is now forced to marry Karl, until, with the impeccable timing one might expect, the characters from Leo’s clock rebuild themselves, and save the day.

In a creative twist the competition takes the form of a Britain’s got talent style TV show complete with sponsorship credits. The pace is fast and if I had a gripe it was simply that the two intervals stalled the action.

The production combines elements of film, projections and some impressive lighting with a predominantly grey and black set inspired by a soviet-style authoritarian state, the darkness of which reflects the dark, controlling elements of the tale. At times the complexity of the production values does threaten to overwhelm the choreography, especially in Act Two which is dominated by a film sequence presenting a record of human achievement across the ages to illustrate the secrets of Leo’s clock.

De Frutos has taken a light, subtle approach to classical ballet moves and interpreted them with a modern, often humorous take. The three spirits of the clock in their costume and dance pay homage to Balanchine and Nijinska is gracefully and appropriately referenced in Act 3’s wedding scene. The performances are joyful. Clemmie Sveaas' Princess is a delight, a heroine who knows her own mind and is unafraid to show it. Her energy, courage and complexity is much more interesting than the slightly one dimensional good guy Leo, danced by Aaron Sillis. Whereas Ivan Putrov as Karl is simply mesmerising as he soars across the stage, it was a shame not to see more of him.

The Most Incredible Thing is an impactful production which engages with its honesty and accessibility, aiming to entertain us all whether we are West End Girls or visitors from Suburbia.