Touring – reviewed at The Lowry, Salford
New Adventures and Matthew Bourne return to The Lowry with their Gothic take on the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty. A firm favourite in the company’s repertoire and celebrating 10 years since it was first performed, this stylish and supernatural production reawakens for 2022.
Set to Tchaikovsky’s scintillating and magnificent musical score, Sleeping Beauty features a wonderful blend of classical and contemporary dance. Bourne is well known for reworking classic ballets into powerful and relevant performances. In this glamorous and innovative reimagining he has created a Gothic world where fairies frolic, vampires lie in wait, and true love conquers all.
With a narrative that spans a century – taking the audience from Edwardian times through to the modern day – the story is built around the romance between Princess Aurora and the palace gamekeeper, Leo. However, their love story is cut short when Princess Aurora pricks her finger – and the dark fairy, Carrabosse’s curse takes hold – sending the Princess to sleep for 100 years. Meanwhile, Carrabosse’s son, Caradoc, has designs to wed the Princess when she wakes. However, her lengthy slumber can only be broken by her true love’s kiss, so Leo needs to find a way to still be around in 100 years.
As always with Bourne and New Adventures, the most striking feature is the individuality of the dancers and their outstanding talent as dynamic storytellers. Ashley Shaw shines as Princess Aurora, playful and dreamlike, with Andrew Monaghan as her true love Leo – their pas de deux at the end of Act II is delightfully expressive of young love. Paris Fitzpatrick shows his versatility as a dancer playing both malevolent Carabosse and her sinister son, Caradoc. Led by Dominic North’s Count Lilac, the winged fairies perform with passion, wit and vivacity.
Majestic pillars and sumptuous gold curtains frame the stage. Transporting us through a variety of different settings – an opulent castle, a moon-lit woodland and a nightclub – from the Edwardian era to the present day, Lez Brotherston’s set and costume design (aided by a conveyor) is ingenious, slick and beautiful.
New Adventures’ Sleeping Beauty is inventive and dreamlike, performed with grace and athleticism. Giving us all the visual clues we need to experience the age-old fairytale in a new and refreshing way – there is no finer storyteller than Matthew Bourne.
Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty runs at The Lowry until Saturday 26 November 2022, before playing at Sadler’s Wells from 29 November 2022 – 15 January 2023.
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