The Scottish Ballet’s The Scandal at Mayerling is a fascinating blend of history, intrigue, and tragedy. The show is aesthetically stunning with an equally entertaining storyline full of mistresses, political mayhem, and murder. Audiences will undoubtedly find the true story of Prince Rudolph, the deranged crown prince of Austria-Hungary, to be thought-provoking.
Crown Prince Rudolph (Evan Loudon) descends into madness in a dramatic whirlwind that is sure to captivate and shock viewers. Evan Loudon has a shaky start but eventually finds his footing and convincingly plays the part of the maniacal prince. His lover, Mary Vetsera (Sophie Martin, is a technically flawless dancer and her passionate love affair with the prince is tragic, disturbed, and achingly beautiful. Moreover, the side characters of Bratsfisch (Bruno Micchiardi) and Countess Larisch (Roseanna Leney) covertly steal the show. Bruno Micchiard is a strong dancer with a sense of energy and precision that is admirable. Roseanna Leney dances her part of the forsaken mistress with reverence, graceful desperation, and elegance.
Unfortunately, The Scandal at Mayerling is well done, but not perfect. The ballet is beautifully and thoughtfully produced, yet missing a certain something. With its dark themes and heavy-handed emphasis on the disturbed, the performance lacks any sense of enchantment. The romantic angst and political turmoil are disappointingly unaccompanied by the utterly transportive quality of a great ballet. Furthermore, the dense storyline and reliance on the political does not necessarily have to be a weakness, but the Scottish Ballet fails to maintain its most important focus: dance. The choreography is occasionally disappointing and overshadowed by the delights of the plot and action. Although, it is worth noting that the choreography of the second act is vastly superior to the first act, and the production ends with a bang. The ballet is overall an alluring and entertaining success.
One further complaint is that of the costuming. The elaborate costuming is undoubtedly beautiful and eye-catching; however, The Scandal at Mayerling is first and foremost a ballet. The heavy, decadent costumes do no favours to either the dancers or the audience. The dancers are at times inhibited by their confining and cumbersome costumes, affecting their jumps, turns, and extensions. Furthermore, the gaudy costumes cover their bodies and legs in a way which prevents the audience from appreciating the artistry of the dancer’s movements. Whenever the dancers are in lighter nightgowns or shorter dresses, the quality of dance exponentially improves.
The Scandal at Mayerling is intriguing, beautifully costumed and staged, and presents a talented cast of dancers. While it has its weaknesses that prevent it from joining the ranks of the great classical ballets, the ballet is overall a stunning production that is worth the time of any theatre-goer.
Images photographed by Andy Ross, provided to The Student via Press Release.