Muddy Must see: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping beauty
I saw Matthew Bourne’s groundbreaking all-male version of Swan Lake more than *cough* years ago (I cried all the way through it) and I’ve always loved his work. Since moving down to Somerset I haven’t seen any of his productions (I know, I know, I need to make more of an effort), so I literally jeted for joy when I discovered New Adventure’s Sleeping Beauty was coming to the Bristol Hippodrome.
I went to see it last night – and it was absolutely BRILLIANT. Matthew Bourne reworks the familiar classic ballet into a glamorous, dark, gothic masterpiece, with opulent sets, incredible costumes, plenty of drama, lots of wit and, of course, thrilling dancing and choreography.
The tale begins in 1890, shortly after Princess Aurora’s birth. The curtain rises on a magnificent set – a huge window with an enormous full moon behind – and a startlingly realistic and hilarious puppet baby Aurora. She crawls furiously around the palace exasperating the staff and is delighted by visiting good fairies (who wouldn’t be?) but not by the dark fairy Carabosse, who puts a curse on her (too complicated to explain why here). At the end of the Act, one of the fairies turns out not to be what he seems…
The story – basically one of revenge – develops over the four acts right up to the present day (yesterday, to be precise). In Act II, it’s 1911 and the innocent and beautiful Aurora (Ashley Shaw) has come of age. She has a sweetheart, the handsome young gamekeeper Leo (Chris Trenfield) but she’s also strangely drawn to the elegant yet sinister Caradoc, the son of the dark fairy Carabosse (Adam Maskell dances both parts, brilliantly).
Pricked by a rose thorn, Aurora falls into her long, deep sleep within the palace walls and many years pass. There’s a beautiful scene where sleepwalkers dance amongst misty trees and some clever stuff where Aurora floats dreamily away. It really is magical. Jump to the next scene and to the 21st century where it’s jeans and hoodies rather than floaty Edwardian dresses – the show constantly surprises – and a be-winged Leo is outside the palace gates. When Aurora finally awakes, there’s a fierce battle between good and evil, Leo and Caradoc, in a neon-lit firey red hell – or is it a nightclub? The dancing and choreography are both absolutely spectacular. Of course, good conquers all in the end and everyone (apart from the elegant, sinister one) lives happily every after. And all this to the original Tchaikovsky score.
It was an absolutely brilliant night out and the company thoroughly deserved their standing ovation. Go and see it if you can, it’s on until Saturday 5 March.