Note: I've been wanting to blog properly on Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance for months now, rather than just mention it on Facebook or in passing here, but have felt so overwhelmed by all I wanted to share and say I've never finished my various drafts. Yesterday, however, I finally got to see the show in person and if I don't - at the very least - tell you how truly wonderful this is, I'll never forgive myself! So here goes...
✒ ✒ ✒ (click the "Read more" link below this line for lots more magical pics & my review) ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒
Bourne's Sleeping Beauty is still very recognizably the fairy tale we're familiar with, it's still ballet and he still uses the Tchaikovsky score. The differences, though, take this production from the usual to something very different. The hint is in the tagline of the ballet's title" "A Gothic Romance". The result, is truly magical, fits very well with the current darker trend in retelling fairy tales, and all without losing that childhood magic so many people love, especially with regard to story ballets. The fact Mr. Bourne combined these aspects so well is a testament to his skill.
The set up made for interesting dynamics right from the outset as the royal couple were only able to have a child due to the magical intervention of a certain fairy. Unlike other stories where the Queen talks to a frog, or sometimes a fairy she finds in the garden, the one whom they beseech in their desperation is the infamous Carabosse. From this angle, it's very believable that this dark fairy would take such offense to not being invited to the child's christening...
(And yes, I should mention, in case you were worried, this ballet does indeed have a happy ending, complete with the words "happily ever after" on the curtain at the end.)
The sets and costumes, both designed by Lez Brotherston, were phenomenal!
Costume design sketchBrotherston had to cope with the changing eras throughout the storyline as the ballet started in 1890 (Act I), took place in 1911 with Aurora’s coming of age party (Act II), and finally travelled 100 years into the future to 2011 (Acts III & IV). Like Swan Lake, but unlike Sylvia, the costumes were not traditional ballet tutus and tights, but rather beautifully constructed dresses and suits. The designer deals with the change in time superbly, as the costumes after the intermission still reference the past, while utilizing modern garb such as skinny jeans and sneakers. In the set, the use of mirrors on either side of the stage give the illusion of a much larger space, and heighten the mysterious and magical feeling as the faeries danced on conveyer belt platform, gracefully transporting from one side of the stage to the other. The lighting design by Paule Constable illuminated the stage as if the moon were truly hovering in the foggy sky and as if the sun was really shining on Aurora’s outdoor coming of age party.
Despite the lack of live music, I highly recommend this production. The story, costumes, lighting, staging, choreography, execution.. all is done with professional finesse, feels fresh and classic all at once and remains magical and fairy tale like throughout. I would happily see it again if I had the chance.
You can find tour details for New Directions (Matthew Bourne's company) HERE and learn more about this Gothic beauty of an experience HERE.
No doubt this will become part of the regular repertoire now but should it be too long a wait before the tour comes to where you are, you can now get it on DVD HERE and Blu-ray HERE.