Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

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Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty
© Simon Annand
This year has seen the twenty-fifth anniversary of choreographer Matthew Bourne's company New Adventures and this new 'Sleeping Beauty' is the culmination of that celebration. As is his wont, Bourne reimagines the dusty old fairytale with tongue-in-cheek humour, contemporary references and accessible, theatrical dance. Subtitled 'A Gothic Romance', this tale of Princess Aurora begins in 1890 (the year the ballet was first performed) and, after a century of sleep, has her waking up in the present day.


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3.7 / 5

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I found this production strangely irritating, almost offensive, in a way that no performance has ever managed before. The decision to pre-record the orchestra before piping it through the theatre's sound-system was poorly executed, lacking the subtlety and dexterity from the sound engineers that this music so clearly deserves. As a ballet, this did not stand up to any sort of scrutiny. Bourne's contemporary styling made for an interesting spectacle, but I was never left mesmerised as I have been by the seemingly effortless spectacle offered by "proper" ballet companies. Many of the steps seemed unimaginative and much of the production "wasted" time on routines that seemed to stutter, interesting moves suddenly interrupted by unexplained pauses and presumably "gothic" shapes. While the "Twilight" styling will prove popular with many, it felt unnecessary and lacked the magical refinement that can make ballet such an enjoyable and moving experience. The satirical modern-day setting for Aurora's awakening often looked clumsy and slapstick, drawing the obvious laughs but always feeling as though it had missed the point. Several impressive individual performances by the dancers lifted this a little, but as an overall spectacle it has left me resolved to avoid any further visits to Matthew Bourne's self-indulgent feasts.

I was given a ticket for this as a friend could not go at the last minute so I am not a "real" ballet fan but this was very entertaining. I was involved from the start and carried on being engrossed right through. The best part, I thought was the beautiful scenery and costumes. It was dark and gothic in parts. The dancing was a mix of traditional and contemporary. The audience was mainly young women and it seems as if there is a slight Twilight/vampire aspect to the show that maybe attracts them. The theatre has very good visibility from up in the circle as it rises very steeply. Well worth seeing.

Loved this ballet... It was magical, beautiful and so good I would see it again.