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Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein at the Royal Opera House: Review

Photo by Nihal Demirci

I was fortunate enough to get £5 student tickets to see Liam Scarlett’s opening night of Frankenstein, which returned to the Royal Opera House for the second time after its premiere in 2016. Frankenstein is Scarlett’s first full-length ballet for the main stage. His brilliant choreography was flawlessly executed by a talented cast. Federico Bonelli was as elegant as Victor Frankenstein. Laura Morera was ever so gracious as Victor’s fiancée Elizabeth Lavenza. Making his debut at the ROH this year, Wei Wang as the Creature brought about both melancholy and horror with his presence on stage. In one scene he moved graciously among other dancers, creating this illusion of the Creature being among dancing guests at Victor’s wedding. Wei Wang and Ptolemy Gidney (who played William Frankenstein, Victor’s younger brother) created a moving scene, where William was blindfolded for a game of blind man’s buff and mistook the Creature for one of his friends. Gidney was perhaps the youngest member of the cast, but certainly, one to look out for in the future. He handled this demanding role very well indeed.

The lavish costumes and stage settings were other highlights of the ballet. I particularly liked the Georgian styled clothes that the characters were wearing. Equally, the sound and light effects were very adequate for what they wanted to portray. This was clear as the audience held their breath when Victor brought the Creature to life.

That being said, I had some reservations about the ballet. The first act was rather lengthy. It took nearly 45 minutes just for Victor to go to university. There were a lot of domestic scenes, which seemed overkilled and did not serve any purpose other than showing off the dancers’ skills. On the contrary, the Creature only appeared for a dashing second before disappearing until almost the second half of the second act. Considering the importance of the Creature in the plot, more time dedicated to him would perhaps make the ballet more balanced. While a great choreographer, Scarlett is probably not the best narrator. There were gaps in the narrative that were not filled. For instance, there was no clear reason why Victor abandoned his creation (other than its hideous look). Considering his obsession with bringing the dead to life following the death of his mother, his action as portrayed in the ballet was not very convincing. Moreover, when the Creature was created, he could not communicate, yet when he reappeared he could already read Victor’s journal and found out how he came to be.

Despite these alight hiccups, Frankenstein was still a great production. I certainly enjoyed it and would recommend it to everyone. The ballet is suitable for an audience aged 12+ and will be on from 5th to 23rd March 2019. The ROH sometimes offer student standby tickets at heavily discounted price, so grab a bargain and enjoy one of the most memorable ballets of 2019!

 

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