Yes, I was at Sadler’s Wells again! Last Saturday my SO and I headed to Islington to see Akram Khan’s English National Ballet production Creature.
It was a full house that afternoon and there was lots of anticipation and excitement as the lights went down and the show began…
“In a dilapidated former Arctic research station, Creature has been conscripted by a military brigade into a bold new experimental programme. He is being tested for his mental and physical ability to adapt to cold, isolation and homesickness…” (Act I synopsis)
The mission is to colonise space, man’s final frontier.
Creature is based on medical student Georg Buechner’s play Woyzeck (1875), a tragedy where a lonely soldier agrees to take part in medical experiments conducted by a doctor, to earn money – his mental health gradually breaks down and he begins to have apocalyptic visions.
The staging of Creature is a large wood panelled room, where the creature is being kept and tested. He falls in love with Marie (Emily Suzuki), his keeper who spends much of her time mopping the floor, but shows him kindness. She is assaulted by the evil Major (Skylar Martin) who is in charge of this mission and because she has rejected his advances, his rage turns towards her. A sinister and repetitive voice over from The Lord of the Rings’ Andy Serkis added to the sense of foreboding that was being created by the menacing and jarring music. On and off throughout the show we hear part of a speech by President Nixon congratulating Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong “because of what [they] have done…” which gradually becomes more and more twisted and slurred, where we suddenly realise (if we’re paying attention) that the meaning has morphed into something different.
A sinister and repetitive voice…
Rentaro Nakaaki was excellent as Creature and beautifully expressed the many emotions his character went through. The military brigade were very effective as a sinister and faceless troop, following the Major’s orders, and I loved the contemporary style of dance. The story raises many questions about the quest for space, how we treat our planet and at what cost, and of course, how we treat each other.
Creature is an engaging, Frankenstein-esque, edge-of-your-seat ballet and I’m so glad I went to see and experience it!