Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty - UK Tour Review

 Matthew Bourne is an icon in the ballet world, creating masterpieces of theatre that take you to other worlds and put a new spin on old classics to tempt and impress audiences. From Edward Scissorhands to Romeo and Juliet, Matthew Bourne has taken the idea of a ballet and turned it on its head, creating showstoppers that engage new audiences and win over traditional ballet enthusiasts.

Whenever I think about ballet, I always think about my Grandma. She ran her own dance school and saw students take to the big stages. So whenever I sit in an audience about to watch one on stage, I always seem to think 'What would Grandma think of this'. And honestly, I think Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty would have blown her away. 

Just over a decade since its premiere, Sleeping Beauty is a gothic step away from the pink sugar plum's of The Nutcracker and the classic-ness of Swan Lake, but adds to the Tchaikovsky repertoire that Bourne has produced. It draws upon the darkness of the tale and opens with Princess Aurora's birth in 1890 before fast forwarding to the present day when her awakening happens. The juxtaposition of the modern dancers (equipped with phones and taking selfies) with the traditional setting and costuming makes this a perfect blend of ultra-modern interpretation and gothic romance. 

The set acts like a narrator, with the curtain lowering to read you a story, telling of Aurora's fate, the dates that things are happening, and the important tellings of the story. The simplicity of the overgrown woodland, mixed with the moving stage adds to the striking nature of the show, however the winning element of the staging has to be the introduction of baby Aurora. Rather than leave a doll in a crib, Aurora is a cleverly designed puppet that comes to life and interacts with everyone that it encounters. It's a brilliant touch that is visually fascinating. 

Cordelia Braithwaite took to the stage as Princess Aurora and blew me away with her elegance and grace. The way she moves on stage is just visually stunning and she throws herself around with ease, especially when she is pretending to be asleep. Paired with Aurora is her love interest Low, played by Stephen Murray. I loved how Bourne cleverly explained that by turning Leo into a vampire, he would not age and be able to wake Aurora 100 years after she went to sleep. 

Ben Brown and Paris Fitzpatrick took to the stage as Carabosse/Caradoc and Count Lilac, the dark fairy and her son, and the king of the fairies. Their interactions with each other and the rest of the cast were entrancing and brilliant. I loved Ben Brown as he played the menacing dark fairy and then later the son who seeks revenge on his parent. It was a brilliant way to tie the past and present of the story together and visually worked really well. 

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty is a giant step away from the Disney film that many know and love, but is a reinterpretation and retelling that is both daring and beautiful. It's entrancing, captivating, and a ballet that shows that Matthew Bourne is a master of his craft. With clever visual tricks, perfect dancing, and performers that will sweep you off your feet, this is a show that allows you to escape for an evening and fall in love with ballet. 

On at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton until 18th March, Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty then continues on a UK Tour. For more info and to buy tickets: Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty Tickets

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