Liam Scarlett stitches together a new full-length dance version of Frankenstein.

There are plenty of villains to be found in the canon of classical narrative ballet, after all, the age-old battle of good against evil is the cornerstone of many fables. Odile the Black Swan, Carabosse, the Ugly Sisters, the Mouse King, Mythra: a motley crew to be sure, but by and large they’re a relatively tame bunch, especially by modern-day standards, desensitised to violence and action by Hollywood blockbusters and the evening news.

Narrative ballet can often be pigeonholed as a rather benign mode of entertainment: delightful, but unlikely to get the adrenaline pumping. Fortunately, ballet has an enfant terrible who’s not afraid to drag the art form, kicking and screaming, to new and disturbing places. In his most ambitious work to date, the Royal Ballet’s first Artist in Residence, Liam Scarlett, has brought Gothic horror’s most iconic monster to the stage of Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Starring Australian ballet star Steven McRae in the pivotal role of Dr Frankenstein’s tortured creation, assembled from the dismembered body parts of unscrupulously swiped carrion, to say...