This new full length ballet from Liam Scarlett has a more romantic element to it in comparison to Mary Shelley’s original tale – but is exquisitely danced by the Royal Ballet.
How to reinterpret Mary Shelly’s gothic story in a refreshing way is a challenge that anyone attempting to bring it to life has to face. But Liam Scarlett and Kevin O’Hare has successfully managed to do this by adding a more romantic element to the plot, intensifying the climax of the story perfectly.
Taking place across three acts, Frankenstein follows the story of Victor and how he came to creating a horrific monster that causes terror. Yet, the creature that Liam Scarlett has envisaged is not intentionally cruel – despite the horrific acts that he carries out, but rather he is a child of simple understanding and vulnerable, making him more sympathetic than perhaps audiences have seen in previous adaptations.
Designer John MacFarlane’s designs are simplistic but effective in drawing the audience’s attention to key parts of the story, working in perfect harmony with Lowell Liebermann’s music and Scarlett’s choreography.
The music that Liebermann has composed is wonderfully subtle, building up to a dramatic climax in the third act, when Victor and the creature confront each other, while the orchestra conducted by Koen Kessels has plenty of energy to really lift the production.
Frankenstein is surprisingly subtle, particularly in the very romantic first act that was beautifully danced by Federico Bonelli (Victor Frankenstein) and Laura Morera (Elizabeth Lavenza), with plenty of grace and charm that was a constant delight to watch. But while the choreography and the dancing was perfect, it did take a bit of time for the story to really start and so a bit of time for the audience to settle into it.
There are also moments when it feels slightly messy – particularly during the tavern scene, which didn’t feel as though it had much purpose or add anything to the story.
But that isn’t to say that things didn’t then pick up in the second and third acts, the music was intense and really drew the audience into what was going on, particularly when The Creature would unexpectedly appear from behind the trees watching what was going on.
One of the standout moments in the second act is when The Creature (Steven McRae) is dancing with Victor’s younger brother William (Guillem Cabrera Espinach – a young talent to keep a watch on in the future), that shows the vulnerability and childlike nature of the creature, really making an impact on the audience and ensures their sympathy.
The third act is straight to the point and brief, but filled with impact and drama that really impresses in its build up towards the tragic and in some respects haunting ending, which stays with the audience long after the show is finished.
If there is any improvements to be made, one suggestion would be to cut the first act slightly but increase the third to create an even bigger impact on the audience and their reaction to what happens.
While all of the Royal Ballet dancers were of high quality, Steven McRae as The Creature delivers a haunting and sympathetic performance that is mesmerising to watch and Laura Morera has a joyful and charismatic presence that is a delight to watch.
Overall, it is a very intricate performance choreographically, but in terms of style some might find it a little bit basic – despite the amazing projections used throughout – particularly in terms of the set. If you can go and see it do it because it is a refreshing and intriguing new take on a classic story and will hopefully convince a younger crowd to pay a trip to the Royal Opera House.
Frankentein appears at the Royal Opera House until the 27th May. To book tickets visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk, Discount Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.