Frankenstein- The Royal Ballet



Just, wow.

There is no better word for this stunning ballet. I found myself bewitched as I sat in the Showcase cinema, surrounded by popcorn guzzling watchers, my mouth open and my eyes unblinking. I was hooked from beginning to end. What a show!

I thought I knew the story of Frankenstein. A big, green man with bolts in his neck, created by a mad scientist, so on, so forth. I had no idea the original story went much deeper. It’s more of a love story – a tragic one, too. I didn’t even know it was a woman who wrote the tale! Talk about girl power.

Liam Scarlett, the creator of this ballet masterpiece, decided to stick to the original story of Frankenstein. Well, mostly. I have never read Frankenstein but I quickly read the cliff notes before writing this review and it has to be said that Scarlett did a fantastic job at adapting this piece to fit the stage. He managed to portray a beautiful relationship between Victor Frankenstein and Elizabeth that both melted my heart and broke it at the same time. The progression of the monster’s character was also done expertly. His beginning moves resembled more of a contemporary feel and as the ballet went on, and the creature became more human, his moments became more classical – something I wouldn’t have noticed without Darcey Bussell’s help, but after she mentioned it, it was easy to see.

(It should also be noted that this man, the creator of this amazing piece, is only 30 years old and this is his first ballet adaptation. If that doesn’t get your life into gear, then I don’t know what will.)


Image by The Royal Opera House

The choreography mixed with the music created an experience I’ll never forget. The original score was done by Lowell Liebermann and it’s easy to see – or hear – he knows what he’s doing. Character personalities were told through the music, as well as the story, and it all came together to create a great narrative.


Image by The Royal Opera House

Another aspect of this ballet that made my mouth fall open was the set. I’ve never seen sets like this before. There were literal sparks. Even the screen at the beginning of the performance set up the atmosphere perfectly. As soon as the show began, a projection was put onto the screen which made it look like writing and shapes were appearing over the skull. To me, this felt like the opening credits of a TV show and I absolutely adored it. It set up expectations instantly and we weren’t disappointed. All sets were incredibly beautiful and suited the era of the tale down to a T. The costumes also had this effect on me. I’m a sucker for a man in a waistcoat so I was very pleased. All this was designed John MacFarlane, and I have to say, he is incredibly talented and anyone interested in set design needs to look him up.


Of course, what would the show be without dancers? Each performer gave their all and danced with absolute grace. Laura Morera who played Elizabeth created a fantastic character through her moves and expressions. She had an air of innocence that completely contrasted with her husband; Victor, played by Federico Bonelli. He was frantic and serious compared to his loving gal. I loved both of these characters and the way their personalities came across – it was incredibly believable.

The creature was played by Steven McRae. He was utterly impressive. The way he grew throughout the performance from a scared, naive thing to a menacing, scary monster was something to behold. It also impressed me how he spent the majority of the performance with one butt cheek on show for the world to see, but perhaps that’s something professional critics won’t focus on…


Image by The Royal Opera House

However, I have to say I was a bit disappointed at the end of the performance. Each dancer came back onto the stage for their bows and the creature, Steven McRae, got the biggest cheer. I can’t argue that his performance wasn’t legendary, but his fellow dancer Federico Bonelli did a whole lot of work. The creature didn’t truly appear until the second act, whereas Victor was in the entire performance from beginning until end. Furthermore, Bonelli’s acting/dancing was equally as impressive to McRae’s in my opinion. But then again, everyone loves a good bad-guy, so that might explain the cheers.

Sadly I was not present at Convent Gardens to witness the premier of Frankenstein. However, I had the second best seats in the house – the cinema. Played live from the theatre, people can watch the performance all over the world. I completely adore this way of watching theatre because it’s cheaper (well I am a student), near to home and the extras you get are amazing. While the theatre audience get their break to go to the bar, us back in the cinema get an interview with the director, the dancers, the designer. Frankenstein was the third time I’ve been to the cinema to see a show and I would definitely recommend! My only gripe about it is that sometimes the camera shots aren’t exactly what I would prefer. Sometimes I want to watch the action on the left of the stage but the camera is giving me a close up of one dancer instead.

However, this does showcase the dancers’ acting ability. I know it sounds strange, but when watching a ballet I usually assume the dancers only dance. I’ve only just come to realise how much acting is involved with the art of ballet too. It’s basically a silence film with some prancey moves, so good acting is required to get the story across. Being in the cinema watching these performances has made me see and appreciate this much more as the acting is much easier to see with the use of close ups.

In conclusion, Frankenstein has made it onto my list of favourite ballets. It was breath-taking, heart warming, heart breaking and overall, simply stunning.



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