A few brief comments on Tuesday’s performance (was travelling to Europe with work yesterday). I’d seen the original run with Tristan Dyer, Sarah Lamb and Nehemiah Kish, and, with reservations, essentially enjoyed.
Despite what I had read on here, the theatre was almost full (including the extremes of the Upper and Lower Slips) and the audience was noisy in its enthusiasm. The lady visiting from the USA next to me who had been discussing her favourite companies during the interval “absolutely loved it” and admitted the construction whereby after the expository narrative of Act One the dancing increases through to the climax. I’d agree it was odd that there were no red-runners though, especially with two debuts.
The Frst Act still doesn’t really work for me: it starts promisingly with the children, the switch to the adults (helped ny the fact that Alexander Campbell and Meghan Grace Hinkis were able to look so young) and the really lovely moment when both sets are on stage at the same time (“the child is father to the man” - probably need to write “The child is parent to the adult”) which reminded me of the end of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. I’d not previously noticed that it is Victor’s dizzingly excited spin around his mother that triggers her collapse, although somebody in the advanced stages of pregnancy dancing en pointe even within the ballet convention is unlikely to end happily. It helps set up Victor’s guilt over his mother’s death though. The dissection scene goes on too long surely, and the Tavern scene adds nothing, surely being there only to cover some scene setting. Being set stage left probably does nothing for sight lines in a horse-shoe shaped theatre either. The ‘Let’s Make a Body’ scene essentially works on the pyrotechnics and some dazzling dancing from Campbell, who is becoming a real virtuoso. Maybe Scarlett brings it out of him: I remember a new brilliance in his execution (which has always been very accomplished) during Age of Anxiety last year. Yes, the initial meeting with The Creature is surely too brief although I have read varied and convincing explanations for that.
Act Two again starts with what I think is unnecessary: we don’t need to see The Creature attacked. It adds nothing, other than raising unnecessary questions, such as why he hasn’t found any other clothes during the period or, indeed, discovered The Book. I’m not convinced by Victor’s nightmare either. However, once we move to the mountains, I think the ballet picks up dramatic and choreographic pace very well. The relationship between William and Justine is beautifully charted, the pas de deux between Victor and Elizabeth is beautifully eloquent and breautifully danced Baty Campbell and Hinkis. He’s a true dance actor who brings such variety to all he does, whilst she surely deserved the epithet I once read to describe Sibley of “swallow swift.” The Creature’s solo of discovery is also beautifully set out and I think this one of the finest things I have seen Kish do: I’ve always enjoyed his work, and his long limbs seem convincingly “baggy” and stitched together here. The pas de deux with WIlliam (exacting stuff for a child and superbly delivered by Ptolemy Gidney) is also first class dance theatre and the climax of the act sheer horror.
Act Three, with its tribute to La Valse, makes an eloquent start. I’m not sure everyone else can see The Creature. After all, he’s dressed now in an approximation of breeches and jacket, whereas when he returns at the end he is back to his “naked” self. The start of the killing spree isn;t entirely convincing: Father simply discovered lying on the staircase. However, the Pas de Deux for The Creature with Elizabeth is very powerful as he attempts to force courtesy on her and the way in which she wants with horrified fascination as the denouncement builds towards her own death is truly unsettling. Campbell and Kish bring real passion to their final duet and The Creature’s desperate attempts to win his Creator’s love become truly moving. His actions may become monstrous but he is not a monster: others have brought him to that.
Of course, the sets are magnificent and the orchestra played wonderfully well to deserved cheers under Barry Wordsworth.
It’s not a perfect ballet, and I am surprised that more revisions do not seem to have been made. However, I cannot agree with those who think it meretricious and find it examines ideas of responsibility, relationship, creativity and loss in ways that can move one greatly. I thought it significant that the loudest cheers were reserved for Kish at curtain call as Scarlett had managed to turn on the conventional head the anticipated response to such a character.