Last week we went to the first night of THE MOST INCREDIBLE THING, a new ballet at Sadler's Wells which has a score by the Pet Shop Boys. Now when you call something by that title you better be ready for the most obvious rejoinder... as here it comes again!
It was announced at the top of the show that it was the first performance in front of an audience and if they needed to stop the show then bear with them. Luckily they didn't have to but I suspect that the announcement was made for us to go easy on it.
The source for the ballet is a Hans Christian Anderson short story - short enough to be reprinted in the programme! Leo works in a dreary factory but is inspired to enter a competition to design The Most Incredible Thing that the King announces will result in the winner being granted half his kingdom and the hand of the Princess.
However the nasty Karl has his eyes set on the Princess and when Leo wins the competition with his magical clock... no, CLOCK... Karl mash it up guy and wins the Princess as what can be more incredible than smashing The Most Incredible Thing? We get a happy ending of course but it's all a bit perfunctory.
I liked the PSB score but it possibly could have done with more light and shade to give the dancers something to interpret. Neil Tennant - who was sat in the row in front of us - said that one of the challenges was to tell a 'book' show through the medium of contemporary dance and I guess it succeeds but with no interest generated in the story or characters as such it's hard to say it's an overall success.
Javier de Frutos' choreography is interesting within it's structured limits but there was never a moment that totally swept me away and of the three principals - Aaron Sillis as Leo, Clemmie Sveaas as the Princess and Ivan Putrov as Karl - it was Putrov who was the star of the show with dazzling pirouettes and leaps as well as de Frutos' robotic moves.
The main problem with the show is that it was split between three acts and the second act - the demonstration of the clock's power and Karl's smashing thereof - was little more than a colour & light show - what dancing there was put me in mind of a specialist dance number you might get in the middle of a panto such as "The Spirit of The Ring". The show would have worked better if it was split between just two acts.
It is due to return next year and maybe it will be worth a re-visit to see if they have sorted out the shape of the show. The King's competition was presented as a BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT-style show with a Davina McCall-style presenter that got old very quickly.
It was well received at the curtain however and it was great to give Neil a cheer as he gave us all a smile and a wave!