This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of choreographer Matthew Bourne's ballet company and he has pulled a blinder out of the bag yet again. His telling of the Brothers Grimm's tale of Princess Aurora's one hundred year sleep, is the culmination of that celebration.
Calling itself a `Gothic Romance', Sleeping Beauty's story begins in 1890 (the original ballet's first outing) and has her waking a century later in the present day.
Everything about this ballet was interesting and original, I was gripped from start to finish.
The story was re-worked to include vampires (very clever Matthew) because vampires have that uncanny knack of rendering anything in which they are present to be sexy, scary as well as deeply seductive. Well I would think that being an old goth.
The show opens with a translucent screen covering the entire stage with the words "Once Upon a Time" and as soon as you hear the opening music from Tchaikovsky's beautiful score - you know instantly that this is going to be an intelligent, witty and very grown-up reworking of this strange tale.
Bourne has become more interesting with his choreography and it works a treat. Some reviews have labelled this piece as being cold and lacking any heart, but what they are failing to see that that is exactly how MB has planned it - the vampires the fairies, all of it is ice cold, even Aurora and gloriously so. There is a scene in the enchanted castle which is difficult to watch as we have a host of red satin clad vampires dancing in a neon purple lit room. Genius! It is cold, sinister and menacing - we are never meant to feel comfortable with these deathly creatures. This was a highlight in the show for me.
There is a wonderful scene-stealing moment early on in the ballet with a puppet of Aurora as a baby, beautifully operated by a semi invisible puppeteer and the scene was enchanting as she interacted with the fairies dancing around her. So tender and subtle were her actions, the expertise of this element reminded me of the talent of the puppeteers in the stage version of Warhorse.
Check this link for info about tickets, venues and even a video clip!
Show continues at Sadlers Wells Theatre until 26th January