Peter Schaufuss wrote within the programme for his own show the Midnight Express that the ballet is not meant to only be about psychological and physical torture, but also to bring out the torture that comes from being imprisoned and trapped in one place without any love or freedom.
However for the audience the entire 110 minute show might feel a bit like jail as well and most members are going to emerge feeling as if they need a large hug as well. For the moment at least, it looks as if the sudden departure of Sergei Polunin from the cast might have been a brilliant move, because the ballet is not likely to be winning any accolades.
Midnight Express was originally adapted by Schaufuss about 13 years ago and is the tale of Billy Hayes’s time in a Turkish jail back in 1977 when he was caught attempting to smuggle hashish. It does clearly take a few cues also from the superlative film of the movie that came out in 1978 and was done by Alan parker. However, when you compare the film to the ballet, the ballet is a big letdown.
The arrest scene that kicks off the ballet is a mess, and the young dancer that is taking on the role Polunin left behind, Johan Christensen, is not very good at the role. Instead we watch him smoking a cigarette completely unnaturally before a swarm of guards show up that look like they would be better placed in a variety act in Soho.
From here tings do not get much better and it is very odd that half of the company is female and yet they still picked a play that is set in side of a men’s prison. The reality is simply shattered from the start.