Mathew Bourne's Sleepy Beauty - UK Tour
Reviewed at Milton Keynes. 17th January 2023.
SYNOPSIS:A reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s classic fairy tale ballet about the Princess who is bewitched and sleeps for one hundred years.
I had the great pleasure of seeing Matthew Bourne’s wonderful reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty Ballet at Milton Keynes Theatre last night. Having been a lifelong fan of ballet, I have seen most of the classics at one time or another but I had never seen any of Matthew Bourne’s work live. Just looking at the programme I knew I was in for a real treat! The photos in the programme and the fact that the four acts took place across one hundred and twenty one years really whetted the appetite!
From the very first moment this production was pure magic! It had a wonderfully atmospheric, gothic set with richly swagged drapes, and a huge projected moon that served to silhouette the fairies and Carabosse. There were also two belts running left and right across the back of the stage which added an effective extra element to the choreography of the fairies.
The idea of having baby Princess Aurora as a puppet was ingenious and it allowed for so much more movement and character as she crawled around the stage and was able to sit and stand up in her cot!
Ashley Shaw was beautiful as the grown up Princess Aurora. Her dancing was wonderful and she brought such depth of character to a part that can often seem quite bland. In this production there was no handsome prince. The man she fell in love with was the Royal Gamekeeper, played with great strength and sensitivity by Stephen Murray. Their relationship was in turn both fun and very moving and the device this production used to keep him alive while Princess Aurora slept for one hundred years was very very clever! No spoilers!
In this production the fairies seemed to be much more involved than usual in the story telling and, led by Dominic North as the Fairy King, Count Lilac, they flitted all around, controlling the action.
Carabosse and son Caradoc, both played by Paris Fitzpatrick were the wicked element of the story. Beautifully handled by Paris, he was tall, dark and evil and I loved him!
The whole ballet was beautifully set off by the sumptuous costumes and the imaginative way the set worked. With atmospheric lighting and smoke drifting through the woods in act 2 the audience were drawn in to this fairy tale world and I for one did not want it to end!
Matthew Bourne’s choreography is very different but because it is a lot freer than classical ballet, the characters seem able to develop much more depth and drama. I loved everything about this magical production!
Sleeping Beauty, A Gothic Romance is on at Milton Keynes Theatre all this week and then touring around the country until April so do anything you can to get along and see it! You will not be disappointed! It is absolutely enchanting!
5 Stars out of 5
Reviewer Julia Rufey