First Night: The Most Incredible Thing, Sadler's Wells, London
Ballet extravaganza is a step too far for the Pet Shop Boys
Sometimes things just don't work. The Pet Shop Boys, the world's favourite electronica duo, have launched into ballet, starting at the deep end with a three-act narrative work. It's an ambitious, sometimes clever project, fatally undermined by waffling choreography.
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have always been an art pop band, collaborating with a wide range of artists. For The Most Incredible Thing, they've brought in choreographer Javier de Frutos, designer Katrina Lindsay, dramaturge Matthew Dunster and animator Tal Rosner to rework a Hans Christian Andersen story.
It tells the story of a fairy-tale competition. Whoever produces "the most incredible thing" will win half the kingdom and the princess's hand in marriage. The hero Leo, danced by Aaron Sillis, creates an extraordinary clock, which opens up to reveal dancing figures. Then the villainous Karl, danced by the former Royal Ballet star Ivan Putrov, smashes the clock and wins the competition. The clock's magical figures come to life and take revenge.
The Pet Shop Boys' score is carefully theatrical. There's a live orchestra, plus electronic beats and samples. There's even a snatch of a conventional pop song: in a sweet scene, we hear Tennant's voice as the princess (Clemmie Sveaas) dances in her bedroom. The duo have fun building up layers of sound, but the score doesn't have the irresistible sheen of their best pop.
The work often falls back on words, using video and projected text. It can't resist quoting good bits of Andersen's text, even if it means moving attention away from the principals. The competition becomes an X Factor spoof, but the scene falls flat; even this easy target needs more precision. De Frutos's choreography is shockingly weak. To evoke human creativity, he lugs on everything from pianists to astronauts, without giving them any good steps.
Until 26 March. Box office: 0844 412 4300
Arts & Ents blogs
There is a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refle...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.