Once upon a time, there lived a disorganised fresher who, whilst sprinting for the train began to ponder how unacquainted she was with the wonder of dance. As the train doors shut and she collapsed into her seat, the fresher considered what she knew… A supposed Gothic Romance, complimented by the divine Tchaikovsky score, a traditional tale of good versus evil… it could only be the classic that is Sleeping Beauty.
Matthew Bourne’s sleeping beauty is quite frankly, magnificent
With no experience of watching dance, I do not know what to expect as I arrive at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth. Initially I feel doubtful however, by the end of the production, this doubt is eliminated. A heart wrenching, emotional rollercoaster leaving me utterly speechless, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is quite frankly, magnificent. A world renowned performance that premiered in Plymouth back in 2012; based upon the remarkable tale that is widely known to all- whether that be from Perrault, the Brothers Grimm or even Walt Disney. Bourne, similarly to his other productions, builds upon the timeless tale of a girl cursed to sleep for one hundred years by adding his own unique, contemporary flair. Within this rendition of Sleeping Beauty, the audience is propelled from 1890 to modern day with magic, fairies and even vampires all making an appearance.
The production itself is tactfully split into four parts that follow Sleeping Beauty’s i.e. Aurora’s life. The tale explores two classic themes, love and hate. The love of Aurora (Ashley Shaw) and her childhood sweetheart Leo (Dominic North) – which as a warning is adorable, and the hatred of two dark fairies against the King and Queen- Carabosse and her son Caradoc (Adam Maskell). Such contrasts culminate in an intense experience that beautifully encapsulates the perfect concoction of human sentiment. Bourne’s expert choreography further reflects the strength of such emotions, each dancer exhibited a burning passion for their individual roles with every move screaming perfection and every expression fitting aptly into the dynamic score that Tchaikovsky created back in 1890.
Brimming with beautiful aesthetics, the setting and costumes are probably what impressed me most
Brimming with beautiful aesthetics, the setting and costumes are probably what impressed me the most about this production. Each set reflected the decadence of the Victorian and Edwardian eras in which Bourne’s story is set and also coincidentally when Tchaikovsky’s ballet was born. A couple of my personal favourite pieces of set design are the pair of stunningly ornate gates from which Aurora awaits her love and the naturalistic scenery which adds a mysterious aura to certain scenes. In addition to the both historically accurate and charming set, each expertly crafted costume clearly depicts the characters’ own stance in the battle of good and evil whilst still managing to maintain an alluring, whimsical charm reminiscent of the era itself. The utilisation of colour imagery within such an ensemble further echoes the powerful emotion that potently shines through the dancers every move reflecting the mood conveyed upon the stage.
All in all, I cannot emphasise how brilliant this production is. I guess it is true what they say, actions do speak louder than words, both through the speechless rhythm of dance and through this review itself. I could use every word possible and yet it still would not be enough to convey the extraordinary nature of this show. With the production touring around the United Kingdom for the next few months, I highly recommend you pick up tickets… I mean it might be another 100 years before, like Aurora, this masterpiece awakens!