24 April 2017 | 6 °C

Royal Ballet's Frankenstein Is Brilliantly Brutal

Frankenstein, Royal Opera House ★★★★☆

Sarah Stewart
By Sarah Stewart Last edited 11 months ago
Royal Ballet's Frankenstein Is Brilliantly Brutal Frankenstein, Royal Opera House 4

Unlike the lumbering, lurching, bolt-necked Creature of many film adaptations, choreogrpaher Liam Scarlett’s vision of the Creature is lithe and limber.

This humanity is at the core of the Royal Ballet's production, which bypasses the 'Man vs. Monster' cliché, to examine belonging and even love.

The plot follows Shelley’s novel closely enough; Victor Frankenstein (Federico Bonelli), driven by grief at the loss of his mother, brings the Creature to life, accompanied by the full firepower of a pyrotechnic display.

The Creature is soon rebuffed, and cast out into a harsh world exemplified by the stark, barren landscapes rendered by John MacFarlane.

Stephen McRae's Creature is anatomical perfection itself, but his raw-seamed flesh is clearly full of pain, not only physical, but also the anguish of longing for the love and approval of his creator.

He isn't the only character torn with emotion; Frankenstein exemplifies successive states of scientific rapture, revulsion and grief. And when his bride-to-be, Elizabeth (Laura Morera) is confronted by the Creature, there is a palpable vortex of fear as she systemically tries, and fails, to escape.

Some of the dance veers so much into a strong emotional state, it becomes almost brutal to watch, such as the pas de deux of Frankenstein and the Creature near the fiery finale. But then Frankenstein was never meant to make easy viewing.

The production has a cinematographic quality — not only from the projections and painterly sets (the scene in the bar with the medical students and attendant prostitutes could have been taken directly from Hogarth), but the adept way in which this classic plot is spun onstage.

Frankenstein continues at the Royal Opera House until 27 May. Tickets £14-£110. Londonist saw this show on complimentary tickets,.

On 18 May, Frankenstein is broadcast live to selected cinemas. Some cinemas will also show encore screenings over subsequent days. For details of participating venues, visit the Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season.

Last Updated 05 May 2016