A combination of dark fairytale and ballet take to the stage for one of the most entertaining and unsettling performances you are likely to see at The Royal Opera House. The ROH is a place of elegance situated in the heart of London’s Covent Garden, it’s a trip me and my partner look forward too, last year we were blown away by Chroma / The Human Seasons / The Rite of Spring.
It was then we were introduced to Raven Girl; the costumes were on display, as fans of gothic fantasy and Tim Burton we were seduced and sold. Raven Girl written by Audrey Niffenegger commissioned to be written for the ballet is without doubt something unique suited to a willing and slightly twisted imagination.
The curtain is raised and I am instantly submerged into the pages of the book, feeling like the audience have left me alone in a dark corner like a voyeur watching the postman and fallen raven become lovers. From the orchestra below the eerie soundtrack is mesmerizing and seductive whilst the controversial mating ritual is taking place; I wonder if others are looking away as I cannot help but watch. As a result Raven Girl is born, human without a voice but a soul desperate to be a raven like her mother, she is beautiful, a graceful confused child. As she grows her soul has taken control, the stage is set to match her emotions spiraling out of control turning to madness and pain. A clear screen is in front of the performers to project moving images creating further surrealism. As an audience but each alone hypnotized in a state of fear as the story reaches its pinnacle, Raven Girl finds a doctor crazy enough to transform her arms into wings. The hospital bed takes centre stage. The wings hang in a tank waiting for their new owner. The doctor is reveling in the task of mutating her arms, I wonder if it is he paying to perform this scene. His madness rises to the surface as he pulls aggressively at her arms shaking her whilst under the anesthetic, violating her innocence, praying on her sadness. Guiltily exhilarated I sit witness to this disturbing crime against humanity. The front screen plays it part beautifully playing a flick book of the transformation of arms to wings, in a Geiger like style. The costumes are effective; student doctors creep on the stage with freakish blue masks which comparative to the emotional serial killer Michael Myers, the doctors previous contorted experiments, hybrids of man, beast and monster likely to give members of the audience haunting dreams. Whilst Raven Girl has her new set of wings to show off which glimmer on the dark stage, fluttering with the precision usually seen in the more extravagant bird of paradise whilst trying to woo a partner.
The Royal Opera House once again proving to be a worthy host this time fully exposing the depth of darkness and emotion from its paper source.