Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – review

Tchaikovsky’s 3 terrific ballet ratings had been those he composed for The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and The Slumbering Beauty within the later years of the 19th century. In 1992, Matthew Bourne produced an affectionately referential model of The Nutcracker (Nutcracker!) set in an orphanage and, 3 years later, unveiled his well-known Swan Lake, with its corps of male swans. Those two works served Bourne properly: the primary launching him into the public focus, the second making him a theatrical family call. This yr is his agency’s 25th anniversary.

It is smooth to understand why Bourne desired to complete the Tchaikovsky trio, but also why he hesitated. Napping Splendor is only notionally a love tale; its actual topics are dynasty, succession and the conflict among properly and evil. The characters peopling the tale are in large part symbolic, and the music is grandly symphonic. If he become to bend Those factors to his very own narrative desires, then the paintings might ought to be considerably reimagined.

matthew-bournes-sleeping--010Bourne‘s tale opens inside the Victorian generation, and Carabosse is now a sorceress via whose dark arts a royal couple, previously childless, were supplied with a daughter. Unwisely, they have unnoticed to reward their benefactor, so she is spoiling for revenge. The toddler princess Aurora, meanwhile, is endowed with wild, wilful methods through fairies with names like Feral and Tantrum, and watched over with the aid of the ambiguous Rely Lilac, King of the Fairies. She grows up farouche and ungovernable and, on her sixteenth birthday, sneaks out for a rendezvous with the royal gamekeeper, Leo. However, her eye is likewise caught by way of the darkly sinister Caradoc, the son of Carabosse, by now deceased.

Caradoc guarantees that his mother’s curse comes actual. Aurora and the court docket subside into a century of sleep, leaving Leo with the chance of developing antique without her. Depend Lilac intervenes, conferring immortality on the younger gamekeeper by way of the acquainted expedient of sinking his enamel into his jugular. Aurora is awaked a century later, and the tale maintains to unroll inside the modern, with the level set for conflict between Caradoc and the now supernaturally gifted Leo for her hand. Storywise, things begin to blur round the edges at this factor, however Bourne contrives a suitably happy finishing.


Like every his productions, Sleeping Splendor is an eye fixed-popping achievement, and its first-class moments are unforgettable. Baby Aurora isn’t the usual inert doll, however a lifelike puppet, and so magically lively – snapping at her mother and father, scuttling spherical the ground at excessive speed, and in a single great sequence surely mountaineering the curtains – as to be the maximum expressive character on degree whenever she appears. The simplest Tom Jackson Greaves‘s glamorously malevolent Carabosse threatens to upstage her.


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As the teenaged Aurora, Ashley Shaw is quite and capricious. Her 16th birthday is the event for an Edwardian tennis in shape – masses of chaps swanning approximately in white flannels and boaters – through which she skitters barefoot, heedful best of her secret romance. The series indicates Bourne doing what he does first-rate: defining person via action – a manner which keeps as Aurora and Chris Leo (Chris Trenfield) behavior a duet wherein she takes all the initiatives. Trenfield‘s dancing is first-rate, however his character lacks intensity. He’s a nice boy, however now not a great deal greater, whilst a vampire, and truly no dramatic suit for the brooding, saturnine Caradoc (Greaves again). There’s a wittily imagined moment when we find out Leo rising from a pop-up tent outdoor Aurora’s forgotten domain, however the choreography that he stocks with her by no means sweeps us away, and the work in no way truly gathers pace as a love tale.

We’re carried along with the aid of the adroit staging, the zeitgeisty references and Lez Brotherston‘s wonderful designs. The fairies wear tattered, timeworn courtroom garments from the 18th century, Aurora’s nursery is natural Victorian gothic, and the Act three dénouement unfolds in an S&M-inflected present day nightclub. It all appears darkly, wickedly gorgeous. But Tchaikovsky’s rating is telling an extra profound and less fashion-pushed tale, and there are times while Bourne‘s neo-expressionistic choreography is unequal to its formal grandeur. The fairy variations within the Prologue, the Act 1 waltz and the Act 2 imaginative and prescient scene put precise pressure on his inventiveness, even though the Act three “White Cat” track is cleverly implemented to the nightclub scene. Too frequently, you find your self applauding Bourne‘s conceptual dexterity in place of being transported by a sincerely theatrical revel in. While this Drowsing Beauty absolutely ravishes the attention, it in no way quite touches the heart.