By Tamsin Mathias
Having never seen Frankenstein before, I was extremely looking forward to seeing it performed as a ballet.I must admit, I was feeling a little skeptical – how can a monster truly be portrayed through ballet?
I was intrigued, and was eager to see the idea come to life.
I trotted off to The Torch Theatre in Milford Haven with my glamorous Nan, who had never seen a ballet before on Wednesday, May 18, to watch the broadcast live from Covent Gardens in London. We took our seats in the Studio Theatre, and settled down ready to see The Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein.
After a few minutes of being introduced to the cast by Darcey Bussell, the show began. Were we in for a treat, or what!?
Most people have seen Frankenstein or at least know the story, but in case you haven’t, skip this next paragraph because it contains spoilers!
Victor Frankenstein is sent away to university, away from his family and his closest friend Elizabeth. Just before he leaves, his mother dies in childbirth. Distraught, Victor throws himself into his studies, learning obsessively all that he can from his Professor.
Fueled by his experiments and in a desperate hope to find a way to bring his mother back, Victor works furiously, and eventually succeeds in giving life to non-living matter – but, horrified at what he has done, Victor abandons his Creation.
Six years later, Victor returns home. The Creature follows him and, watching Victor with his family from afar, longs to be accepted and loved as one of them.
I was concerned that the story would be a little lost, as it relies so heavily o dialogue in most productions. However, I needn’t have worried. The storytelling was immensely fabulous, and told through the expressions and body language of the dancers.
The casting of the characters could not have been more right. The roles suited each and every person perfectly, who each brought with them the knowledge and understanding of their character’s wants, needs and desired, coupled with pure emotion.
This is one of many ballets I have watched, and I don’t think I have ever seen one as impressive. Spanish ballerina, Laura Morera, who took the role of Viktor Frankenstein’s wife, Elizabeth, is the best female dancer I have ever had the joy of watching.
Her graceful movements captured the attention of all, and whenever she took centre stage you could hear a pin drop. She elegantly performed a difficult routine, and danced as though it is the only thing she has ever done.
The chemistry between her and Frederico Bonelli, who took the role of Frankenstein, seemed real and genuine, and their performances together were ones that made everybody is the auditorium not wish to blink for fear of missing the intricate steps, twists and spins.
Bonelli, a strapping lad who looked more like an 18-year-old than a 30-year-old, perfectly portrayed Frankenstein’s fear and vulnerability, after the death of his mother, which took away his confidence and stable mindset.
After feeling disappointed after first believing his experiment in bringing a deceased person back to life had failed, we saw how utterly terrified he was when his Creation managed to move himself off the table that his experiment was carried out on.
When he ran away in utter fright, we were treated to the performances by Steven McRae as the Creature.
It was almost as if we were shown into the darkest depths of his mind, with thoughts constantly circulating and reminding him of the regret, by creating such a monster. It was painful to watch him go through such trauma.
Little did I know, I was about to witness the best performance by a male ballet dancer I’ve ever seen. Steve McRae, The Creature made the most wonderful shapes with his body, coupled with the compelling facial expressions.
His strong body language mirrored that of a monster, whilst being amazingly elegant at the same time.
He manipulated us into feeling sympathy for him. He did not ask to be brought back from the dead, he did not wish to be abandoned. All he wanted was to be loved, but he did not know how terrifying he was to those who saw him.
Which, might I add, is completely understandable, seeing as he had been made out of different pieces of different corpses.
He watched Viktor, and observes his genuine, unhidden love for Elizabeth, and jealousy fills him. The Creature’s body language changed, from one that is shy and afraid to be who he is, to one who almost seems to feel resentment toward Viktor, asking himself why he isn’t loved by his Creator.
He watches, longing to be loved.
When the pair dance together however, there is a definite chemistry between them, which begs the question does The Creature wish to be cherished like a lover or a child by Frankenstein?
It seemed to me, that the dancing between them was almost erotic, but completely unwanted by Frankenstein, making the audience feel even more uncomfortable than they already were at the sight of Frankenstein squirming just looking at his Creation.
Steve McRae’s agility and utter perfection made him the best man for the job. No other dancer would have done the role justice!
Frankenstein by the Royal Ballet is the best performance I have ever seen, and I would love to see it again!