The Sleeping Beauty / In Good Company, Royal Opera House, London

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The Independent Culture

It's based on the most famous of Royal Beauties, the 1946 production designed by Oliver Messel.Company director Monica Mason planned a hybrid, updating the Messel with later improvements. She and her team have made too many of the wrong decisions.

Peter Farmer, realising the designs, keeps replacing Messel's bold colours with washed-out blues and beiges. The sets are better, though the new scene painting looks dimmer and dowdier than the original.

Production details have changed, too, including the heroine's entrance. In 1946, Aurora ran on, struck a pose and ran off. Then she dashed back on, dancing full out - an effect that could make audiences cheer. In 2006, Aurora just comes on. It's characteristic of a production that needs a better sense of theatre.

Bad choreography has a way of seeming endless. In Good Company, a bill of new work, feels like that throughout. This first programme overflows with good intentions. Unfortunately, with serious choreographers thin on the ground, the result is a lot of pious duds.

Jonathan Watkins's Silent Vision presents Zenaida Yanowsky as a silent movie star; a screen with captions introduces this solo. The idea is paper-thin but Yanowsky is a charismatic dancer who could just about carry it off. But the first little dance is followed by another title card plus solo, and another, and another.

But it seems disciplined next to Liam Scarlett's meaningless duet Despite. Leanne Benjamin and Edward Watson mope, embrace and mope some more. There's no story; they just go until they've got through all that Rachmaninov.

Kit Holder's duet Conversations has echoes of Tudor and Ashton - a tense lift, a lyrical slide along the floor. Holder slips quickly into generalities, but he does establish a mood. In this company, any sign of competence is a relief.

'Beauty' in rep to 3 June (020-7304 4000)

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