Review: Sleeping Beauty – A Gothic Romance @ Birmingham Hippodrome

It’s always a major event when a new Matthew Bourne production comes into town, and this week is no exception as his company New Adventures unveil their production of The Sleeping Beauty to Midlands audiences.

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty

This is one of Tchaikovsky’s three great classic ballets from the late nineteenth century, and having successfully reinvented both The Nutcracker and most famously Swan Lake (those male swans) Matthew says he always thought he would like to complete the trilogy but had previously struggled to hit on the perfect idea. Well now he has, after an inspirational visit to the composer’s country retreat and the result is a story that begins in the 1890s and because of Princess Aurora’s long sleep, ends in the present day.

There’s no doubt about it, this is a production full of classic Bourne touches. It’s a visual treat that begins in the royal nursery where War Horse-type puppetry creates a winsome life-like baby visited by some very naughty supernaturals led by the dark fairy Carabosse and Count Lilac, King of the Fairies. They’re a decadent crowd, a set of raggle-taggle dressing-up-box punks, but spooky enough for all that.

Moving onto a great Edwardian pre-first world war tennis party Bourne evocatively channels the sunset of an era, and after a sexy encounter with very wrongest kind of suitor the evil magic comes into play.

The dark tones, the gothic mode, it’s all there as Mr. Bourne indulges his love of shock and sensation, but of course the unforgettable music is the star right up to the modern hoodies and trackie-bottoms finale set right now in the present day, a modern Beauty for our times.

This is a great night out, and like all Bourne successes, not to be taken too seriously, his famous sense of humour always peeping through – enjoyment’s the key. It’s young, sexy, funny, and touching, and a stonking great hit, in other words it’s by Matthew (now of course Sir Matthew) Bourne. The final standing ovation said it all. But don’t let me influence you. Go and see for yourself.

The show runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until February 13. For tickets phone the box office on 0844 338 5000 or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

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