A night of gothic wonderment with the English National Ballet who do well to continue their collaboration with acclaimed Bengali choreographer, Akram Khan (from your Bengali critic 😉). First shown at this venue back in 2021 Creature is a returning touring production tackling familiar themes of power, religion, freedom and the limits of man and science. A cross between early science fiction and mainstream superhero films, it’s refreshing to see ballet tackle popular cultural issues.
Akram Khan’s choreography is accurately described as hypnotic with Eastern influences in music and dance shining through in the two-hour performance. The music often sets apart Khan’s pieces which has the ability to climb into your soul. Vincenzo Lamagna creates a score which is seamless from the opening scene featuring a recording of a speech by Richard Nixon and right through to the heart thumping crescendo where the music starts to shake along with the ingenious set.
Dance is always a special treat for this theatremaker who is in constant awe at the Olympic physicality of dancers. The strongest pieces were rightly saved for the creature who enthrals with his caged animalistic ways and provocative pursuit of his poor love interest. The vulnerability and innocence of his character comes across wonderfully in the interpretation of ensemble pieces.
Dance also appears to have a stronger affinity with music, light, costume and set than theatre which gets away with production values as an afterthought. Tim Yip’s timber set is beautiful and imposing, symbolising man’s manipulation of nature to build walls from organic materials. The three timber walls are imperfect and stretch across the height of the space, from floor to grid which add to the sense of suffocation suffered by the protagonist, the creature. Lighting design by Michael Hull is integral to the set design as the darkness of the set is pierced through with illusive daylight creating wonderful shadows in the space and onto the dancers.
In contrast, the costumes are a little underwhelming with the superiors in fairytalesque, pastoral robes and the women in American looking secretarial dresses which end up dating the production – if this is about the near future, why is the fashion so non-binary? A short run which although now past is sure to make a comeback so keep an eye out for the return of this beautiful performance and production brought to Sadler’s Wells by another dreamy collab between the English National Ballet and Akram Khan.
Written by Tasnim Siddiqa Amin.
Follow Tasnim on Instagram: @tasnimsiddiqaamin & WordPress.
Creature was shown from Thursday 23rd March until Saturday 1st April 2023 at Sadler’s Wells. To find out more about the production, visit here…