Here are five of the first reviews out of last nights new double bill at The Royal Opera House: Wayne McGregor's Raven Girl and Alastair Marriott's Connectome. It runs until 24 October.
The lasting impression of Raven Girl however is of a visual and aural feast, daring in its simplicity, beautifully achieved in its mix of digital and physical effects. – Jenny Gilbert, The Arts Desk
McGregor's characteristically extreme choreography is here softened by an injection of classical lyricism and while Gabriel Yared's score keeps things buoyant, the steps are often conventional and listless. With a miscellany of agendas that Angela Carter would have spun into gold, the potentially inflammable friction between the bizarre and the banal never quite ignites on stage. – Neil Norman, The Stage
Characterisation is minimal, relationships perfunctory and Audrey Niffenegger's tale of a postman, his raven wife and their unhappy flightless offspring remains episodic and uninvolving. McGregor struggles to fill 85 minutes with worthwhile movement material and expressive artists such as Sarah Lamb (in the title role) and Edward Watson (as the bird-fancying postman) become mere components in the mechanism. – Louise Levene, The Financial Times
There are still some longueurs but the ballet does work and it's brilliantly served by Sarah Lamb who is alternately awkward, luminous and fierce as the conflicted Raven Girl. – Judith Mackrell, The Guardian
McGregor's essentially jump-free style is an odd fit for such an avian story, while big choreographic moments frequently appear to loom on the horizon but then fizzle disappointingly – corvus interruptus, you might say, and all ultimately, still, just a little so-what. – Mark Monahan, The Telegraph
A trio of principals – Lauren Cuthbertson, Steven McRae and, yet again, Ed Watson (give the boy a night off!) – are set in counterpoint against a corps of four more boys, and one can occasionally divine, between all the busy leaping and turning, the vague outlines of emotional interaction. There are some extraordinary moments – a terrific solo for McRae ends in his disappearing into a scrum of boys like a folded leaflet posted through a letterbox – but these moments are rare. – Jenny Gilbert, The Arts Desk
Alastair Marriott's synaptic exploration of identity, Connectome, benefits from Arvo Part's spiritual music and Es Devlin's shining forest of glittering Perspex rods that make the cast appear to be dancing inside a nuclear reactor. – Neil Norman, The Stage
The 2014 piece, set to Arvo Pärt, is well crafted but Marriott's uncharacteristic embrace of McGregorisms becomes uncomfortably obvious in this ill-conceived double bill. – Louise Levene, The Financial Times
Connectome, unfortunately, looks less good on a second outing. It was created as a vehicle for the stage-scorching talent of Natalia Osipova, and while Lauren Cuthbertson is very fine as Osipova's replacement, the quieter intelligence of her dancing exposes the weaker clichés of Marriott's choreography. – Judith Mackrell, The Guardian
As with Raven Girl, the strong cast play second fiddle to the sets, with Jonathan Howells's lamentable gym-kit costumes lending the piece the unfortunate whiff of a chi-chi aftershave ad set in a locker-room. – Mark Monahan, The Telegraph
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.