Matthew Bourne and New Adventures are back at The Lowry in Salford with a gothic reimagining of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty.
By Bourne’s own admittance the familiar story of Sleeping Beauty always left him ‘a little cold’ – understandably so – it is a tale about a Princess who spends most of her time asleep. Taking his inspiration from Tchaikovsky’s score and the original fairytale, Bourne plays with our expectations of the well-loved tale and adds further layers to the story, with a surprising twist and new characters – Sleeping Beauty is a faultless and magical production. Giving us all the visual clues that we need to experience the story in a new and refreshing way – there is no finer storyteller than Matthew Bourne.
Set to the backdrop of Tchaikovsky’s passionate and menacing score, Sleeping Beauty tells the love story of Princess Aurora and her one true love, the Royal Gamekeeper, Leo. However, their love story is cut short when the dark fairy, Carrabosse curses Aurora to sleep for a 100 years. Carrabosse’s son, Caradoc also has designs to wed the Princess – however, she can only be awoken by her true love’s kiss.
Sumptuous gold curtains frame the stage and footlights donning fairy wings cast their light up to the stunning movement. Lez Brotherston’s set and costume design is dreamlike and striking, transporting us through from the Victorian era to the Edwardian period and then the present day with ease.
There is an abundance of personality and humour from the outset as Bourne chooses not to depict Aurora as a babe in arms but a loveable and mischievous little beauty. Using clever puppetry, Aurora is given a strong identity from the very beginning bringing giggles from the audience.
As always with Matthew 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 Chris Trenfield as her true love Leo – their pas de deux at the end of Act II is perfectly expressive of young love. Adam Maskell shows his versatility as a dancer playing both malevolent Carabosse and her sinister son, Caradoc. Led by Christopher Marney‘s Count Lilac, the winged fairies Mari Kamata, Cordelia Braithwaite, Leon Moran, Dena Lague and Liam Mower, complete a wonderful line-up – technically perfect – they perform with passion, wit and vivacity.
Once you have seen a Matthew Bourne production you become hooked and poised ready for the next. Following the well-deserved standing ovation and rapturous applause for Sleeping Beauty, Bourne hinted that he has a brand new production waiting in the wings. With a formal announcement to be made after Christmas – he did reveal that it will receive its premiere in Salford at The Lowry. I can’t wait.
Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is at The Lowry until Saturday 28th November.