There’s something quite haunting about Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, something dark, obsessive and transcendent that puts a mirror to our inner demons. The days of duels at dawn in snow-covered fields may be long gone, but the passions that drove men to challenge each other at gunpoint still lie within us. Our unchecked passions still get us into trouble, both in our social sphere and, most significantly, in love. WA Ballet, under the artistic direction of Aurelien Scannella, brings choreographer John Cranko’s adaptation of Pushkin’s novel to His Majesty’s Theatre.
Onegin isn’t simply a love story, even though on the surface it might look like one. The central characters never love each other at the same time; their obsession for one another never converges to result in real union. This story of unrequited love is both a cautionary tale about bad timing, and a character study of the title role, Onegin, performed by Jiri Jelinek. Jelinek, always costumed in black, perfectly captures that air of the dark, mysterious stranger. Act 1 sees him aloof, brooding, but still pleasantly accommodating to the circle of gentry amongst whom he finds himself, most especially to the young country girlTatiana, performed by Jayne Smeulders. His self-absorbed and oblivious character is conveyed in small dismissive gestures, and his slightly condescending attitude is written in his face.
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