Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty review: A dazzling reawakening

The Bourne formula remains fruitful

Matthew Bourne has brought his 'vampire romance' version of Sleeping Beauty to Dublin's Bord Gais Energy theatre. Bourne hails the popularity of dance at the moment and puts Strightly Come Dancing as a huge influence.

Artist:

Venue: Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Date Reviewed: November 11th, 2015

This may well be the sleeper hit of Matthew Bourne’s Tchaikovsky triumvirate of ballets with how well it twists the classic 1890 tale into a more current drama. In it, his respect for ballet coincides with his distinctly exuberant style on several levels – from manipulating the plot with vampires and tennis-playing to mixing classical repertoire with theatrics worthy of the West End.

Lez Brotherston’s dynamic costumes and sets take on a life of their own, and the story begins with this strong sense of vitality as the royal parents realise the curse their daughter faces, having brought it upon themselves. The newborn princess first appears as a feisty baby climbing the curtains, and her spiritedness multiplies as she comes of age and pricks her finger on a black rose, set as a trap by the evil Carabosse. Fast-forward to when Princess Aurora wakes up from her 100-year sleep and, unusually, she re-emerges in the present day.

Much transpires during the interim, and Bourne’s timing works like magic, not only in the story arc but also in the way he crafts particular movements, especially the group dance scenes.

In more traditional interpretations of the classics, the dancers can seem so concerned with the intricacies of their steps that they exude an exclusionary feel. Bourne’s performers do just the opposite, pausing for mere nano-seconds in the midst of their waltzing to draw the audience into the fun.

When Cordelia Braithwaite as Aurora dances with Chris Trenfield as her love interest – who also happens to be the gardener – their free-spirited duet practically spills off the stage with abandon. Likewise the fairies, half of whom are men, tantalise with names and personalities such as Ardor, Feral, Tantrum, Hibernia, Autumnus and Count Lilac, so that while ample respect gets paid to Marius Petipa’s original story as well as Tchaikovsky’s music, this Sleeping Beauty successfully straddles time.

The conclusion features another signature group scene, which, while compelling in its dazzling red costumes and spirited choreography, also begins to feel a bit formulaic. This haka-style eruption of energy is signature Bourne. Still, if his formula for masterful storytelling continues to propel ballet forward into the next generation with such verve and intensity, it’s a plan well worth following.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.