‘Great!’ said my son, ‘A ballet about a non consensual kiss that wakes up a girl. “true love”? I give them 6 months’. My son is a teenager, and about the original story of sleeping beauty, he’s not wrong! But we know differently now, and Matthew Bourne definitely knows it.
A feisty, wilful Aurora, full of wonder, who chooses a gamekeeper as her love over pompous courtiers is at the heart of his exceptional ballet. This gives the fairy tale a depth of character that works so well within the merging of Tchaikovsky’s original music and Bourne’s modernised story.
It is filled with magical forests, full moons, candelabras, parties and vampires- Yes, vampires/vampire fairies. How else is our hero going to survive a hundred years to wake his beloved?
It is a ballet that can keep a teenage boy interested- even when he gets mixed up and asks if there are seven dwarves, just as the curtain goes up.
It’s good to see Aurora get a good love story, and Katrina Lyndon’s dancing showed her bright, inquisitive, vibrant character to perfection. I loved every move of the choreography and was completely spellbound. The chemistry sizzled between her and Stephen Murray’s Leo the gamekeeper.
In the beginning of the ballet Aurora is just a baby, but cleverly brought to life as a puppet, crawling, grabbing, and even climbing round the set in comical fashion. It brilliantly bringing her character to life from the beginning as she gives the palace staff the runaround!
The dark fae/ vampire we know as Maleficent from Disney is called Carabosse in the ballet and her son Caradoc continues her plan of revenge. They were played by the same dancer, Paris Fitzpatrick, and absolutely wowed my son. The malevolence and intensity of both characters meant he stole the stage with grace and excellent posture.
The stage was luxurious, extravagant hanging drapes, mirrors and wrought iron brought the gothic, with a fantastic full moon shining from the back in the magical night scenes. Two travelators traversed the stage and were used in some jaw dropping moments -I could barely imagine being able to pirouette let alone on a moving stage – or from one moving stage to another!
The second half is set in modern day, and has some moments that I would say weren’t suitable for younger children. Things turn dark when Aurora is taken at the moment of her awakening by Caradoc, who wants deadly revenge for the treatment of his mother.
The performance was 2 hours and 30 minutes including the interval, and we were hooked the whole way. A performance of this calibre is truly at home in this impressive theatre.
The heady combination of Tchaikovsky’s dramatic music and Matthew Bourne’s characterful and detailed choreography makes for an exceptional and unforgettable performance. As this is his first introduction to ballet my son has been spoiled!
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
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