Touring – reviewed at The Lowry, Salford
Guest reviewer: Demi West
Birmingham Royal Ballet brings the beloved fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, to life in a dazzling fantasy spectacle. Peter Wright’s version of the story is as close to the original 1890 version as possible, re-creating the original Russian choreography – offering a glimpse into history and culture while retaining relevance and enjoyment.
The performance takes place over four parts, the prologue, followed by three acts, which follow the story of Sleeping Beauty as modern audiences have come to know it. The prologue depicting the christening of baby Aurora is one of the weaker parts of the performance, but it built eager anticipation for the antagonist Carabosse and her haunting command of the scene.
The following two acts – Aurora pricking her finger, and the prince waking her from her slumber – were as to be expected, flawless and compelling. However, most of the spectacle came from the final act, Aurora’s wedding, which was filled with an ensemble of fairy tale characters each offering a unique individualistic performance. A highlight being Puss in Boots, as not only was the choreography strikingly different, the music took on a refreshing and appropriate shift in style.
Throughout the various acts, one highlight remained: the performance of Aurora by Delia Mathews. The choreography of her character offered a platform to showcase thrilling feats of power and dedication, and Mathews stepped up to the challenge.
Her performance left me bewildered and astonished, an emotion felt by the audience as a whole. However, Aurora as the protagonist can only demand the pedestal if the performance of her peers is of equal stature, and they too did not disappoint.
While they do not receive the limelight to showcase themselves they created the world for her to perform. The set design, the costume, the characters, and the music all blended to create truly a delightful vision. The set and costumes looked tangible and realistic, leaving the impression that they were relics of the time they depict. The music captured the characters and the world they inhabit beautifully, and the cast that inhabited here were the perfect visualisation for this multigenerational story.
In conclusion, the Birmingham Royal Ballet should be proud of the show they have created. They have proven that while we may have changed a lot since 1890, what was beautiful then, is still beautiful now.