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Review: Scottish Ballet keep challenging stereotypes with The Scandal At Mayerling

By Kirsty Brown

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Leave your visions of sugar plum fairies and lullabies at the door if you're visiting His Majesty's Theatre for the ballet this weekend.

The Scandal At Mayerling challenges people's limited views of the art with aggression, drama and a variety of dark themes.

The show opens on a funeral on a rainy day, setting the tone for the next two hours, before taking the audience back to the start of the tale to share the lead up to that depressing scene.

It is the tale of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary (Ryiochi Hirano) who, following his loveless marriage, spirals into a void of women and alcohol becoming increasingly detached from his 'perfect' life.

It is an impressive performance from Hirano, who is captivating as the tortured prince and who barely spends a second still throughout the entire performance.

While the final scene of Act 1 (a short act at only 35 minutes) is aggressive and heartbreaking, there is an almost beautiful juxtaposition of manoeuvres requiring high levels of trust between Hirano and his bride (Bethany Kingsley-Garner) - a poetic blend lifts and tumbles - and the breakdown of trust in the storyline.

The Scandal At Mayerling is in His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, until Saturday.
The Scandal At Mayerling is in His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, until Saturday.

The second act (twice as long as the first) shows the prince entering into a passionate, yet destructive, relationship with another young woman Mary(Constance Devernay).

Unlike his bride, this new lover is not repulsed by his macabre fascinations and in fact appears to be excited by them, despite her innocent appearance.

This pairing only proves to drag Rudolf deeper into the pit of despair, until it all becomes too much.

There is no denying the level of skill and professionalism which Scottish Ballet continues to bring to the stage, and The Scandal At Mayerling is a beautiful artwork despite it's glaringly dark atmosphere.

Some of the dancers display feats of flexibility to rival the Cirque crew, and it is impossible to ignore the incredible dedication to training shown by each of the dancers on the stage.

This show does come with a content warning for sexual violence, addiction and mental health and while somehow softened through the wordless art, is definitely worth noting for anybody considering buying tickets who knows they may have sensitivities to such difficult themes.

The Scandal At Mayerling is in Aberdeen until Saturday, May 7, and while perhaps not suitable for a younger audience is well worth attending if you're looking to spice up your weekend with a little drama.

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