CREATURE | London, Sadlers Wells

Set within three bleak and crumbling shed-like walls (Tim Yip), a creature (Rentaro Nakaaki) is tested for his mental and physical ability to adapt to extreme cold, isolation and homesickness. With allusions to the stories of Frankenstein and Woyzeck, this dark ballet’s strongest moments are its most avant-garde; but we lose interest in the repetitive and derivative ensemble choreography that dominates.

Following the immense acclaim of Akram Khan’s Giselle in 2016, a collaboration between English National Ballet and Sadlers Wells, it seemed only natural to assemble the same team together and hope for lightning to strike twice. Composer Vincenzo Lamagna, Oscar-winning designer Tim Yip, dramaturg Ruth Little and even sound designer Yvonne Gilbert were all reunited to create Creature in 2021, but to weaker reviews.

This revival boasts a phenomenal cast. As the creature, Rentaro Nakaaki steals the show, contorting wildly between imitating the president’s pompous declaration of dominating the stars, to a scared and frightened child, learning to love.

The ballet’s strongest moments are the solos and pas de deux; maybe not surprising considering Akram Khan’s interest in performing solo. Even an exceptional ensemble is limited by, at times, camp choreography that relies too heavily on repetitive marching. (The Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein did it better.)

Playing at Sadlers Wells 23 March – 1 April 2023.

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