Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at Theatre Royal
The mighty Matthew Bourne has a way with ballet, and it isn’t simply to do with innovative choreography, great though that is. He can look at a classic dance narrative and spot the nuances, clues and implications that can spark off a whole new take on the story, geared more to a contemporary sensibility yet retaining the magical charge of the original. His Sleeping Beauty starts with a rather Edwardian, Gosford Park vibe, where the free-spirit teenage princess Aurora (danced with a fine sense of character by Katrina Lyndon) in an environment of tennis and tea parties, attempts to avoid her suitors as she’s deep in first, innocent love with Leo, the Royal gamekeeper. The suitor she most wants to avoid is the creepy, slytherin-style Caradoc whose evil enchantress mother Carabosse (both roles danced by Jackson Fisch) set up the whole situation. Aurora must prick her finger and go into a 100-year sleep, but she’s protected by the fairies who came to her Christening, all goth-eyeliner, corsets and tattered flounces and – oh yes, did I mention that the good fairies, with names like Tantrum and Feral, are also vampires? That solves the 100 year problem – Leo gets vampirised so he can be there to wake her, but so is nasty, slimy Caradoc with his demon henchmen and a taste for human sacrifice, so all hell looks like breaking loose. What can I say? Much more exciting than most ballets/fairy tales this one had wit, neck-biting and a puppet baby that nearly brought the house down.
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