Matthew Bourne never fails to adapt a classic tale into a thrillingly innovative production interjected with a twist of darkness.
As his third adaptation of a Tchaikovsky ballet, Bourne re-imagines Sleeping Beauty as a gothic romance. Set in 1890 and spanning until modern day, Aurora is cursed by the dark fairy Carabosse and her son Caradoc attempts to seduce young Aurora despite her falling in love with Leo the Royal Gamekeeper.
Not only does the production emanate beauty, it has it’s playful moments. The use of puppetry as baby Aurora adds a sense of playfulness and the baby’s mischievous nature has the audience bursting into laughter, something I’ve never experienced in a ballet yet thoroughly enjoyed.
Matthew Bourne really pushes the boundaries in terms of style, from intimate duets to gripping ensemble numbers, the intensity of the production is potent through the sharp choreography. Bourne captures the beauty of classical ballet with pristine arabesques and graceful fouettes yet intertwines fierce pulsating movements, giving it an edgier modern feel.
Ashley Shaw graces the stage as Princess Aurora, returning to Bourne’s productions after performing as principle roles in Edward Sissorhands and The Car Man. Not only does she exude beauty herself but both her technique and exuberating emotion appear effortless. Complimenting her elegance is Chris Trenfield who dances as Leo, the royal gamekeeper she falls deeply in love with. From the smallest retiré’s to his dramatic solos’ the strength of his movements ooze passion allowing the audience to solely engage with his emotional journey.
Shaw and Trenfield’s intimate duet on the bench is a poignant dance in the show, the fluidity of the movements interlaced with moments of stillness create a moving duet.
Adam Maskell sheds the darkness over the piece, his evil twisted movements as both the dark fairy Carabosse and her son Caradoc are sinister. His ability to not only play two very powerful roles but also two genders show his incredible versatility and skill as a dancer.
The intricate detailing of the costume designed by Lez Brotherston enhances the beauty of the piece as the variation of costume reflects the array of styles used in the show. Similarly Brotherston’s set design is exquisite, capturing the essence of why ballet is so powerful.
The mesmerising forest scene is lit immaculately, the balance of the darkness with the moon gleaming in the background creates stunning silhouettes whilst the ensemble of sleepwalkers dance poetically and expressively. Dressed in merely bandages of white cloth, this scene is the epitome of Bourne’s creative artistry.
A highlight of the production is the garden party scene in which the characters are dressed in period costumes as they dance enchantingly to the renowned title song of the ballet and disney film Once Upon a Dream.
Matthew Bourne creates a production that incorporates all the classical elements of a ballet with a compelling modern gothic twist.
Sleeping Beauty is on at The Lowry until the 28th of November and tickets can be found here.