Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Now I come to think of it, that was my impression from the TV showing, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I would agree about the splendid and committed performances put in by Hinkis  and Campbell (their PDD at the start of Act 2 was particularly good and well received)  and also Kish, although I do prefer McRae’s version of the creature. And Ptolemy Gidney as William was excellent ( a lot of intricate dancing for a young student) and received well deserved whoops from the audience at the end.

 

There is a lot going for this ballet, even if (like me) people feel they do not need to see multiple performances each run.   I think  the gothic Frankenstein story (which by now is pretty well known as an adapted  concept, if not so much in terms of the original) is eminently suitable  for telling  through dance. In arranging this Scarlett and  Liebermann include  a series of “dances macabres”-  such as occur for example in the gruesome dissection scene, in the raunchy tavern scene (where Henry is teased  about the latter), in the awful anticipation within the  William/Creature PDD, and in the waltz at the start of Act 3, where the Creature moves in and out of the dance and in and out of the vision of the ever more tormented Victor.

 

In fact that waltz is particularly clever – the beautiful ensemble dancing from the corps is interspersed with the horror of the Creature’s appearances and manipulations which require impeccable timing from all concerned to work so well.

 

The cinematic-style  music of much of the score does resonate after a few hearings, taking on some memorable passages when you get more familiar with them. I noticed last night that it marks particular emphases at important moments in the story. And it certainly assists the sense of developing unease and horror as the story unfolds.

 

Another clever element is the use of the “book” motif throughout (remembering this is a story based on a classic book) – starting with the young Elizabeth teasing the young Victor with one of his  books (something soon replicated by the older pair, and later reprised by the younger in a remembrance sequence), continuing with the “wrong” student books being discarded by the Professor, and of course principally through Victor’s little red note book. This starts out life happily enough as  a gift from his father, and is a receptacle for (presumably)  a love note from Elizabeth, but then it becomes a rather dark tome once it starts to hold  Victor’s set of re-animation instructions. It is carried off by the Creature (in Victor’s cloak) when he flees at the end of Act 1. Last night it fell out of the cloak in the confusion,  so  Campbell smartly threw it at Kish as he left, it being important for the Creature to have it later, when he reads it and tries to understand how he came to be. Later dropped, it shows the shocked Victor that his Creation is back- his action then in tearing out the pages is what makes the Creature realise how his Creator rejects him. The note book continues to play its part until the very end, when the Creature pitiably and desperately  looks through it as if it will give him the answer to restoring Victor’s life.

 

Finally the stage sets are brilliant.  The pyrotechnics of the steampunk/Heath Robinson-type lab machinery that against all odds  brings the Creature to life, are magnificent, and great fun !

Edited by alison
To reduce font size
  • Like 13

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, JohnS said:

 I appreciate it’s difficult to imagine the Creature having awareness/insight immediately on reanimation but could a case be made to draw on both Frankenstein’s and the Creature’s perspectives? 

 

No John - not difficult. Our tortoises waken after 5 months of quasi-death in the fridge and immediately make a) meaningful eye-contact and b) for the nearest dandelion flower.... We like to think this is insight....! Hmm, not sure how relevant this is after all. Sorry!

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Edited by Jamesrhblack
Spelling correction
  • Like 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Jamesrhblack said:

His actions may become monstrous but he is not a monster: otters have brought him to that.

 

As a member of the Otter Trust I must pick you up on that false slur James- !

 

That's a very interesting review--glad to hear of the cheering for Kish. I didn't like the ballet at all but, when I saw the first run I also thought the Creature's dancing deserved huge applause;  I very much disliked the make-up though, which so much concealed their expression and body , and I don't think it's much fun for the dancer either.

 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jamesrhblack said:

Yes, the initial meeting with The Creature is surely too brief although I have read varied and convincing explanations for that.

 

So, we currently have the Creature running away and Victor left sitting there horrified?  I'm wondering how it would be if it were the other way around, since it appears that's what happens in the novel?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the very interesting review, Jamesrhblack. I would agree with much of what you say, but although it's not particularly illuminating I do think the tavern scene has some purpose - it shows Victor to be serious, studious, apart, isolated, ?obsessed etc, which does give him a bit more context I suppose. (And I felt as if it that scene was - happily - a bit shorter this time round, though I could be wrong.)

 

But in general, in spite of its good points I do think that (as others have said) the focus of the work really needs to be more on Victor and the creature (and less on Victor and Elizabeth); without that, I think it's difficult to really be involved in what happens towards/at the end. We see nothing of the creature's development - he just disappears and then reappears all those years later (and then spends a lot of his time just lurking around - and invisible to some of the audience - so we still learn no more about him.) It's frustrating because there could have been something really good here.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, alison said:

 

So, we currently have the Creature running away and Victor left sitting there horrified?  I'm wondering how it would be if it were the other way around, since it appears that's what happens in the novel?

 

But would then require a scene change if Frankenstein is to meet Clerval (admittedly very brief but I think useful for the narrative).

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=POFQ7gxLwdw

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know a lot of people don’t like the music but I think it’s so powerful in this scene. That repeated note as the Creature comes to life sends shivers down my spine. I have just noticed that Victor clings to Clerval in the same desperate way the Creature clings to Victor.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An email announcing ENB's2 019/20 Season has just reached me, and I see that Akram Khan will be creating Creature - it's " inspired by Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein and explores themes of abandonment, rage and loss. "

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Ian Macmillan said:

An email announcing ENB's2 019/20 Season has just reached me, and I see that Akram Khan will be creating Creature - it's " inspired by Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein and explores themes of abandonment, rage and loss. "

 

 

I've just published the press release Ian!

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will be fascinating to see Akram Khan’s ’Creature’ and another full length production.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Mary said:

 

As a member of the Otter Trust I must pick you up on that false slur James- !

 

That's a very interesting review--glad to hear of the cheering for Kish. I didn't like the ballet at all but, when I saw the first run I also thought the Creature's dancing deserved huge applause;  I very much disliked the make-up though, which so much concealed their expression and body , and I don't think it's much fun for the dancer either.

 

I've seen Kish dance the Creature in two runs now and I think he's been excellent on both occasions. Although this is not my favourite ballet, it did inspire me to read the book (not usually my thing at all) and after that, I felt there was far more that could have been made of this character in the ballet. Indeed, when I watched it on Tuesday, I was frustrated in Act 2 to see Kish just appearing in the background for half the act - and of course, no appearance in Act 1 until right at the end.  I find the whole thing so frustrating!!

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sitting in Stalls Circle left on Tuesday, I was part amused, part frustrated at seeing the shadow of The Creature reflected on the front of the Frankenstein's house! Slightly dodgy lighting, although it did add a sinister touch to see The Creature greatly enlarged but, to me, invisible!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, ninamargaret said:

sitting in Stalls Circle left on Tuesday, I was part amused, part frustrated at seeing the shadow of The Creature reflected on the front of the Frankenstein's house! Slightly dodgy lighting, although it did add a sinister touch to see The Creature greatly enlarged but, to me, invisible!

 

I thought that that effect was intentional! But one of the problems with the staging is that The Creature lurks a lot on the left hand side of the stage and is invisible to the audience seated there.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

I thought that that effect was intentional! But one of the problems with the staging is that The Creature lurks a lot on the left hand side of the stage and is invisible to the audience seated there.

Scarlett used the same effect  in Sweet Violets

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Still think I missed,some things. During the previous run I sat on the right side and missed things as well. You can't win! And if it was a deliberate effect that Scarlett wanted I apologise for my lack of imagination!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No sign as yet of the "TBCs" being replaced by an actual name, so I'm wondering whether someone else is learning the role, whether there'll be another guest, or whether it will be either Kish or Hirano.  (Not Hirano for the Saturday double bill, of course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, JennyTaylor said:

I've seen Kish dance the Creature in two runs now and I think he's been excellent on both occasions. Although this is not my favourite ballet, it did inspire me to read the book (not usually my thing at all) and after that, I felt there was far more that could have been made of this character in the ballet. Indeed, when I watched it on Tuesday, I was frustrated in Act 2 to see Kish just appearing in the background for half the act - and of course, no appearance in Act 1 until right at the end.  I find the whole thing so frustrating!!

 

I haven't seen the ballet yet, but I've read (and taught) the book, and I agree that 'Frankenstein' is arguably the creature's story as much as it is Victor's; as readers we are forced to see things from the creature's perspective, and to empathise with him. A shame if he's mostly reduced to a lurking background figure? 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, alison said:

No sign as yet of the "TBCs" being replaced by an actual name, so I'm wondering whether someone else is learning the role, whether there'll be another guest, or whether it will be either Kish or Hirano.  (Not Hirano for the Saturday double bill, of course)

I've been checking multiple times a day for the last couple of weeks & am finding the continued TBC frustrating, as I'm waiting to find out who is doing the final performance before I make a decision on whether to see it. Is it normal for cast changes to be left in the air like this until so near the performance? I can't believe the RB don't know who will be dancing a lead role in performances 5 & 8 days away, so why not announce it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, alison said:

No sign as yet of the "TBCs" being replaced by an actual name, so I'm wondering whether someone else is learning the role, whether there'll be another guest, or whether it will be either Kish or Hirano.  (Not Hirano for the Saturday double bill, of course)

 

Or McRae reprising his created role now that he's back in the studio.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, aliceinwoolfland said:

... as readers we are forced to see things from the creature's perspective, and to empathise with him.

 

I think in the Ballet we are able to empathise with the Creature - William’s death seems much more an accident than murder to me.  It’s just that the reanimation scene is very rushed when there might have been opportunity to show the Creature experiencing his physical being, new limbs, the immediate surroundings etc before Frankenstein realises the Creature has come to life, is repulsed by what he sees and is appalled at what he’s done.  As regards the ‘lurking’ early in Act 2, I think this is pretty effective in the theatre if you have a decent view but I do appreciate that for many seats with restricted views, it’s very unclear what is going on.  Again a plea for the production team to look at perspectives other than centre Stalls, Grand Tier, Balcony etc.  To me the Creature’s shadow is deliberate and chilling.  

 

On 14/03/2019 at 09:28, Jamesrhblack said:

Act Three, with its tribute to La Valse, makes an eloquent start. I’m not sure everyone else can see The Creature.

 

In Act 3 it’s Frankenstein who is haunted by the Creature and sees him dancing with guests just as he sees Justine and William etc from the past.  When Frankenstein’s haunted images are replaced by the actual Creature embarking on his blood fest, is this when the Creature is back in his original costume?  I can’t recall and as James says, we’re more engaged in the dance than Frankenstein’s father’s death.

 

Overall, my sympathies are very much for the Creature rather than Frankenstein who does nothing to help Justine when he knows she is innocent, I think more so in the Ballet than the novel where he suspects/isn’t in a position to intervene as he only arrives after Justine has been charged?  But then I tend to be pro Caliban and think Prospero has a great deal to answer for.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great show tonight, we had a red run 😮but no flowers for Sarah which surprised me as the performance was filmed

 

frank2

 

frank3

 

Edited by Rob S
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So what is going on with Frankenstein sales?  Two days ago there were about 1400 seats available next Monday, most of them  in the stalls.  And then, like magic, the same area is nearly full!

 

Are we to assume that the world has just realised that they absolutely must see Frankenstein next Monday or have all London's nurses/firemen/social workers been invited to the party?  Or is there some amazing offer on that has been extended to the world with the obvious exclusion of RB regulars?

 

Answers on a postcard, please...

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, penelopesimpson said:

So what is going on with Frankenstein sales?  Two days ago there were about 1400 seats available next Monday, most of them  in the stalls.  And then, like magic, the same area is nearly full!

 

Are we to assume that the world has just realised that they absolutely must see Frankenstein next Monday or have all London's nurses/firemen/social workers been invited to the party?  Or is there some amazing offer on that has been extended to the world with the obvious exclusion of RB regulars?

 

Answers on a postcard, please...

 

If those really were the people being offered the tickets (no doubt at large discount) that would at least have some worth. But, of course, that's not what's happening.

 

The ticket sales for Frankenstein are interesting, because it does seem that if the ballet regulars don't buy in bulk, there's a real problem for the ROH. That seems to belie their oft-quoted statistic (which I can't remember, of course, but it was quite high) as to the percentage of complete newbies coming to each performance or each season or whatever it is/was. Clearly there aren't enough of them to buy the tickets (at full price, which presumably the ROH needs) when the regulars stay away.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...