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I liked it too. I remember a very enthusiastic audience when I was there, and if I recall, whilst the reviews didn’t enthuse over it, most didn’t completely pan it either.

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I see Frankenstein is being filmed 15 and 23 matinee but it’s not being relayed to cinemas and we have a dvd from the first run - is anybody able to offer any enlightenment?

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Have to say I enjoyed this evening's performance hugely. Morera/Bonelli on top form, James Hay as Henry and an excellent Creature from Wei Wang. I hadn't seen James Hay for some time - I think since his Lescaut and yet again I was high e impressed. For me, Morera/Bonelli can do no wrong - it's a very special partnership.  Yes, there are parts of the ballet that go on a bit, the music is somewhat overblown and some of the special effects raise a few giggles, but pretty enjoyable on the whole. There appeared to be an awful lot of very mature looking students there, but the PH bar was very quiet. 

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56 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

James Hay as Henry

 

Oh well, that's something to be looking forward to, in the absence of Bracewell :)  Glad to hear Morera's back, too.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, ninamargaret said:

 There appeared to be an awful lot of very mature looking students there, but the PH bar was very quiet. 

 

Glad you enjoyed the performance. A strong cast including the hoped-for James Hay as Henry. Who was Justine, please?

 

Adult students are eligible for the ROH scheme, I believe.

 

 

 

Edited by capybara

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15 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

Glad you enjoyed the performance. A strong cast including the hoped-for James Hay as Henry. Who was Justine, please?

 

 

Justine was Romany Pajdak.

The bar in the Amphi was very lively! 🙂

 

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Have there been any alterations to the reanimation scene, in which Victor made the monster from spare parts in about 90 seconds?

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

Adult students are eligible for the ROH scheme, I believe.

 

Most students are adults,  but I know what you mean!

 

I believe you are correct, even though the ROH's scheme has confusingly been renamed from ROH Students to Young ROH...

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, capybara said:

 

Glad you enjoyed the performance. A strong cast including the hoped-for James Hay as Henry. Who was Justine, please?

 

Adult students are eligible for the ROH scheme, I believe.

 

 

Romany Padjak was Justine, and a very good performance too. And as far as mature students are concerned, as a geriatric myself I've no problems with mature students! It would seem, however, that it is still the older audience that is attracted to ballet.

 

Edited by John Mallinson
Comment mixed in with quote
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Nina did you want to add a comment to the above quote, or should I delete it?  

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15 minutes ago, Sim said:

Nina did you want to add a comment to the above quote, or should I delete it?  

Sim, my comment was from 'Romany Padjak' onwards - must have done something daft! Sorry.

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Whoops - when I said 'adult students', I was thinking of those who are attending courses specifically for adults (e.g. at Morley College London or at CityLit). Any 'student' audience justifiably includes these older learners and I think that we will all have seem them there.

 

I know that we shouldn't comment on the basis of rehearsals but I felt that the 'creation' technique remained the same but felt slightly longer to achieve.

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43 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

Sim, my comment was from 'Romany Padjak' onwards - must have done something daft! Sorry.

 

I've edited it.

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Whilst I am sure that the previous criticisms of this work will be revived this time round, I enjoyed last night as did everyone who was with me and we covered a comprehensive age range from late sixties down to early twenties. My daughter and her boyfriend, who filled out the lower end of the age range, were very impressed both with the dancing and the dramatic impact, not to mention the sets and special effects. Whilst, apart from a brief Prokofiev-like interlude, I still find the music forgettable, I will concede that it added to the overall atmosphere but more in the manner of a background film score than a stand-alone work memorable in its own right. Perhaps this was the intention.

 

As Ninamargaret says, Morera and Bonelli were very much at the top of their game and they do, indeed, have a special and totally convincing connection which continues to grow each time they dance together and elicited spontaneous applause following more than one of their pas de deux. James Hay made for a riveting Henry and then some. Was Henry's role expanded or did it just seem that way due to Hay's impressive performance? He certainly commanded the entire stage and drew a well-deserved and enthusiastic response from the audience. And Romany Pajdak gave a very sympathetic portrayal of the hapless Justine.

 

I was particularly interested to see Wei Wang as this is the first time that I have seen him dance and he didn't disappoint. I found his interpretation very different from that of Steven McRae's in the earlier run. From memory, McRae's Creature came across to me more as a lost being, tossed by the fates and driven entirely by his need to connect with his creator. I felt a greater sense of malevolence in Wei Wang's Creature, who seemed driven more by obsession than neediness. He was more manipulative, taking a twisted satisfaction as he came to recognise the fear and distress that his actions and, indeed, his presence could invoke.

 

The audience as a whole seemed very receptive to this performance with lots of whoops and cheers from the amphitheatre. Was it tweaked a lot? It seemed more together to me but that might have been down to a degree of familiarity on second viewing; I really couldn't say. The 'spare parts' section of the reanimation scene seemed as brief as before and was the source of some considerable amusement in my part of the auditorium and no attempt was made to resolve the obvious question of why a blindfolded William was left alone during the game of blind man's buff at his birthday party to be murdered by the Creature (wouldn't have been more convincing to have him wander off into the woods?). Overall, however, I felt that the narrative moved better than before, switching from happiness to tragedy without too much of a stretch given the suspension of disbelief essential to any viewing of this horror story. And to anyone put off by criticisms that the choreography is too derivative of Macmillan, it was aesthetically pleasing and character-appropriate, something that can't be said of many recent works, and, after all, every choreographer's work is influenced by someone or something that has gone before.

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Thank you, Scheherezade, for that report.  Although I haven't seen it this time around yet, my guess would be that although Henry isn't actually that big a part, Hay, like Campbell before him, made it seem rather bigger than it actually is :)  (but obviously correct me if I'm wrong, somebody!).  I thought Campbell nearly stole the whole show last time around!

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Yes, Alison, and James Hay did the same last night, possibly even more than Campbell, although each of them brought their own special magic to the role.

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From looking through the threads, it seems that Frankenstein is a ‘Marmite’ ballet; well, I’m not particularly keen on Marmite, but I loved Frankenstein the first time around. Although the ‘recipe’ has been tweaked slightly for this run, thankfully it still retains most of its original ingredients and flavour. This implies, of course, that the majority of those who dislike the ballet will find little in this production to change their minds. 


Here are some of the changes I noticed last night…


Act 1
As with the last run, the ballet starts behind a scrim, with a young Elizabeth being rescued from a storm by members of the Frankenstein household emerging from their front door. In the original production there is then a fairly long interlude (with the subsiding storm being projected onto the scrim) while the stage is reconfigured. In this production we are kept ‘amused’ by the sight of the family moving from one side of the stage to the other, in front of the scrim, as if making the journey back to the house against the elements. This made little sense to me, as I thought they’d already gone the few yards back into the house (except for young Victor, who was intrigued by the lightning playing on the scrim); had they come back out looking for him?


Victor’s mother, heavily pregnant and going into labour, sat down on the window seat in the original production, which is towards the rear of the stage. In the new production, she is seated on a chair towards the front left – much more visible to the audience. The cast sheet listed Mendizabal as Victor’s mother, but last night it was definitely not her. In the interval we tracked down one of the fabled and seldom-spotted cast-change sheets (I should have taken a photo as proof!) which listed Olivia Cowley instead.


In the 'dissection lab' scene, Professor Thomas Whitehead was, as before, his wonderful, imperious self - though the ‘interaction’ between him and his female lab assistants has been toned right down: last night he tried, but failed, to kiss one of the assistants’ hand (she 'took control' and stopped him); in the original production he danced with all of them, and behaved in an overtly sexual way by kissing the inside of Beatriz’s hand (much to her disgust!). The #MeToo era has brought increasing awareness of how the asymmetric power relationships between students and staff can lead to sexual exploitation in academia, so removing that aspect from the production is to be welcomed. 

 

Also, Henry seemed to have more dancing in the lab scene (though that might just be down to James Hay’s amazing stage presence, projection and technical skill – he certainly seemed to raise the character to a new level).


Act 2
The back of the stage (a rocky outcrop with trees) seemed more brightly lit than before, so it was much easier to see the creature observing (and reacting to) the other characters. Whether it was the better lighting, the dancer’s interpretation (Wei Wang was very good), or a change in the choreography, but the creature seemed much more prominent when in the background compared to the last run.


The biggest change was the sequence of events leading up to Justine and Victor leaving the stage. 


In the original production (on DVD – my memory isn’t that good!), William receives a book as a birthday present from his father (unbeknownst to Victor); Victor presents William with his mother’s pendant; Elizabeth invites Justine to join in dancing with Victor and her friends; Justine’s mother is brought from the house by a jealous maid, confronts Justine, and Justine runs off stage; Victor notices William is reading a book, snatches it from him thinking it is his notebook, and apologises when he discovers his mistake and goes into the house, upset that he has upset William. 


If memory serves me right from last night, William is presented with a book from his father; Victor notices the book, snatches it from the boy, and makes amends for upsetting him by giving him the pendant; when they all clap William’s birthday, Elizabeth tries to get the brooding Victor to take part, but he storms off in a huff into the house; in response, to try to distract Elizabeth, Justine starts dancing (with her?); Justine’s mother notices this, tells her off, and Justine storms off in a huff.


The only explanation I can come up with for these plot changes (apart from shortening the act slightly by removing much of the ensemble dancing) is to shift ‘blame’. In the original production Elizabeth is ‘to blame’ for Justine running off into the woods through inviting her to join in the dancing with her, Victor and her friends. In this production, Victor is ‘to blame’ because he is the one who upsets Elizabeth by storming off, which then triggers Justine’s fateful attempts to distract her.


Act 3
The only thing in Act 3 that I don't recall from the original run was when, at one point during his fight with the creature, Victor appeared to try to take out the ‘stitches’ holding the creature together – death by disassembly!?

 

So, not the major changes I had feared, but are they enough to explain why they are filming the production again in the next few weeks? They are not broadcasting it live in the cinema, so are they planning on releasing this 'new' version?
 

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Many thanks Nogoat - that’s incredibly observant of you and very generous to share all the changes you saw.  I shall very much enjoy the performances I’m seeing without having to wonder what’s changed.  I’d rather hoped there’d be a major addition for the Creature and Victor at the end of Act 1 but no matter.  Like you I’m very curious as to why it’s scheduled for filming, with no cinema relay and the dvd from the first run.

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1 hour ago, JohnS said:

I’d rather hoped there’d be a major addition for the Creature and Victor at the end of Act 1 but no matter.  Like you I’m very curious as to why it’s scheduled for filming, with no cinema relay and the dvd from the first run.

 

Sorry, JohnS, I should have picked up on your earlier posting about the filming.


As far as the interplay between Victor and the creature at the end of Act 1 is concerned, I used to wonder why the ending was so abrupt – between the creature rising up and the end of the act is less than a minute! However, in the interim I got around to reading the book for the first time, and it’s very clear in the book that despite the sheer intellectual achievement of his obsessive pursuit of the secret of life through the reanimation of dead tissue, Victor’s response is not elation but instant repulsion – “I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room…”


I then realised that Victor’s obsessive nature was subtly hinted at earlier by Scarlett – when he was both a child and an adult, Victor always smoothed out the cushion on the window seat if it had been stood on; a minor point that, to me, only makes sense in the light of the above. 


So, the ending of Act 1 becomes, rather cleverly, true to both the films and the book; the lightning-powered lab paraphernalia is true to Hollywood (as far as I remember, no ‘machinery’ is used by Victor in the book) and the abrupt repulsion and escape of the creature is true to the book (ok, fairly true - it's Victor who rushes from the room in the book).


I’m left with the impression that Scarlett and his ‘creative team’ have put a huge amount of thought into crafting this wonderful theatrical and dance experience!
 

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I've just been having a look at how Frankenstein in selling & while I was on the ROH website also had a look at ticket prices for this summer's Nozze di Figaro. To my complete bafflement, I see that row B side stalls circle (16-27 & 86-97) is £70 for Frankenstein but is going to be £65 for Nozze. I thought that ballet was priced lower than opera (apart from the occasional modern opera) at the ROH? Have I been labouring under a misconception for years, not having actually bought any ballet tickets until this season?

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2 hours ago, JohnS said:

  Like you I’m very curious as to why it’s scheduled for filming, with no cinema relay and the dvd from the first run.

 

Probably to capture it as it is with the changes and, maybe, because it might be ‘rested’ for some time and future repetiteurs will need to refresh their memories?

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40 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

Probably to capture it as it is with the changes and, maybe, because it might be ‘rested’ for some time and future repetiteurs will need to refresh their memories?

 

Given Alex Beard's notation of the vast need for the House to make money, I would think - since it is publically listed - that this filming might be sold to some media arm, e.g., Sky, etc.  (Just a guess). 

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8 hours ago, Scheherezade said:

Yes, Alison, and James Hay did the same last night, possibly even more than Campbell, although each of them brought their own special magic to the role.

During the previous run I saw Luca Acri as Henry. After that I bought the DVD with Campbell as Henry. I would say his performance is rather softer and perhaps more sympathetic towards Victor than James Hay, whose more exuberant performance was more the sort of character who would try to try to 'get him to come out of it a bit'. Both dancers have their own styles - possibly the Campbell version is truer to the book, but James Hay made me want to see his Mercutio!

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5 hours ago, Nogoat said:

From looking through the threads, it seems that Frankenstein is a ‘Marmite’ ballet; well, I’m not particularly keen on Marmite, but I loved Frankenstein the first time around. Although the ‘recipe’ has been tweaked slightly for this run, thankfully it still retains most of its original ingredients and flavour. This implies, of course, that the majority of those who dislike the ballet will find little in this production to change their minds. 


Here are some of the changes I noticed last night…


Act 1
As with the last run, the ballet starts behind a scrim, with a young Elizabeth being rescued from a storm by members of the Frankenstein household emerging from their front door. In the original production there is then a fairly long interlude (with the subsiding storm being projected onto the scrim) while the stage is reconfigured. In this production we are kept ‘amused’ by the sight of the family moving from one side of the stage to the other, in front of the scrim, as if making the journey back to the house against the elements. This made little sense to me, as I thought they’d already gone the few yards back into the house (except for young Victor, who was intrigued by the lightning playing on the scrim); had they come back out looking for him?


Victor’s mother, heavily pregnant and going into labour, sat down on the window seat in the original production, which is towards the rear of the stage. In the new production, she is seated on a chair towards the front left – much more visible to the audience. The cast sheet listed Mendizabal as Victor’s mother, but last night it was definitely not her. In the interval we tracked down one of the fabled and seldom-spotted cast-change sheets (I should have taken a photo as proof!) which listed Olivia Cowley instead.


In the 'dissection lab' scene, Professor Thomas Whitehead was, as before, his wonderful, imperious self - though the ‘interaction’ between him and his female lab assistants has been toned right down: last night he tried, but failed, to kiss one of the assistants’ hand (she 'took control' and stopped him); in the original production he danced with all of them, and behaved in an overtly sexual way by kissing the inside of Beatriz’s hand (much to her disgust!). The #MeToo era has brought increasing awareness of how the asymmetric power relationships between students and staff can lead to sexual exploitation in academia, so removing that aspect from the production is to be welcomed. 

 

Also, Henry seemed to have more dancing in the lab scene (though that might just be down to James Hay’s amazing stage presence, projection and technical skill – he certainly seemed to raise the character to a new level).


Act 2
The back of the stage (a rocky outcrop with trees) seemed more brightly lit than before, so it was much easier to see the creature observing (and reacting to) the other characters. Whether it was the better lighting, the dancer’s interpretation (Wei Wang was very good), or a change in the choreography, but the creature seemed much more prominent when in the background compared to the last run.


The biggest change was the sequence of events leading up to Justine and Victor leaving the stage. 


In the original production (on DVD – my memory isn’t that good!), William receives a book as a birthday present from his father (unbeknownst to Victor); Victor presents William with his mother’s pendant; Elizabeth invites Justine to join in dancing with Victor and her friends; Justine’s mother is brought from the house by a jealous maid, confronts Justine, and Justine runs off stage; Victor notices William is reading a book, snatches it from him thinking it is his notebook, and apologises when he discovers his mistake and goes into the house, upset that he has upset William. 


If memory serves me right from last night, William is presented with a book from his father; Victor notices the book, snatches it from the boy, and makes amends for upsetting him by giving him the pendant; when they all clap William’s birthday, Elizabeth tries to get the brooding Victor to take part, but he storms off in a huff into the house; in response, to try to distract Elizabeth, Justine starts dancing (with her?); Justine’s mother notices this, tells her off, and Justine storms off in a huff.


The only explanation I can come up with for these plot changes (apart from shortening the act slightly by removing much of the ensemble dancing) is to shift ‘blame’. In the original production Elizabeth is ‘to blame’ for Justine running off into the woods through inviting her to join in the dancing with her, Victor and her friends. In this production, Victor is ‘to blame’ because he is the one who upsets Elizabeth by storming off, which then triggers Justine’s fateful attempts to distract her.


Act 3
The only thing in Act 3 that I don't recall from the original run was when, at one point during his fight with the creature, Victor appeared to try to take out the ‘stitches’ holding the creature together – death by disassembly!?

 

So, not the major changes I had feared, but are they enough to explain why they are filming the production again in the next few weeks? They are not broadcasting it live in the cinema, so are they planning on releasing this 'new' version?
 

Great summary, thank you  – in the birthday scene Justine is also scolded by her mother for having a flower in her hair; she makes her remove it and as far as I recall that's what is the last straw for poor Justine. I kept thinking that Frankenstein and the creature were really one and the same, particularly in Act 3 where no one apart from Frankenstein sees the creature when they're all dancing and the creature is dancing in amongst them (a bit like the ghost of Banquo at the Macbeth's dinner). I thought Wei Wang was terrific, a very different interpretation from any I've seen before. 

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2 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

I've just been having a look at how Frankenstein in selling & while I was on the ROH website also had a look at ticket prices for this summer's Nozze di Figaro. To my complete bafflement, I see that row B side stalls circle (16-27 & 86-97) is £70 for Frankenstein but is going to be £65 for Nozze. I thought that ballet was priced lower than opera (apart from the occasional modern opera) at the ROH? Have I been labouring under a misconception for years, not having actually bought any ballet tickets until this season?

 

No, it's already been pointed out elsewhere that (I think) Romeo & Juliet suffers from the same affliction.

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3 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

I've just been having a look at how Frankenstein in selling & while I was on the ROH website also had a look at ticket prices for this summer's Nozze di Figaro. To my complete bafflement, I see that row B side stalls circle (16-27 & 86-97) is £70 for Frankenstein but is going to be £65 for Nozze. I thought that ballet was priced lower than opera (apart from the occasional modern opera) at the ROH? Have I been labouring under a misconception for years, not having actually bought any ballet tickets until this season?

My take would be that we have a marketing dept that does not understand its product.  I had no desire to see Frankenstein,once being more than enough, but noticed the high prices.  

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Slightly off topic, but may I please know if Wei Wang is guesting with the Royal Ballet or has he joined the Royal Ballet? The information on the ROH website isn't very clear.  Thank you in advance. 

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Just guesting, I guess, to cover for a double injury for those scheduled to dance the part.  I can't imagine it would be anything more.

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Incidentally, I've just watched the recording I made of this when it was on the TV after its first run.  I have to say, it looks more convincing on screen than I remember it doing when I saw it in the theatre.

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