Monday, 18 March 2013

Review: Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

For a while now a friend of mine has been asking me to go along to the ballet with her. I've been reluctant. I wasn't sure whether it would be my 'thing' - I went to ballet classes when I was little and I didn't care for it at all. In fact, I would often sit down on the floor with my legs and arms crossed and refuse to take part. I think I simply couldn't stand another round of 'good toes, naughty toes'.

Due to these bad memories and the fact I know very little about how to interpret ballet I kept putting it off.

Then I heard that one of Matthew Bourne's ballets was touring to Cardiff. I knew of Matthew Bourne's reputation and that he brought a very unique vision and a twist to the 'traditional' ballets.

If there was ever a ballet I was going to agree to see, this was the one. I was quite excited, actually. It was a whole new theatrical experience; Like going back to childhood and wondering what exactly waited beyond that curtain.

I was not disappointed - there were beautiful gothic sets, costume and makeup. There were magical characters, comic moments, dramatic moments, powerful music and strong performances - everything I love about theatre.

I needn't have worried about whether I could interpret the ballet or not. There was a projection of a summary of the events which were coming up at various intervals throughout the production. Even without this though, the story spoke for itself. It's astonishing how easy it can be to follow a story without words. I suppose this gives us something to think about in life too - actions speak louder after all.

Even though this is a ballet, that doesn't necessarily mean tutus and pointed ballet shoes. Toward the end of the production, 100 years later and set in the modern day, the characters wore tracksuits and trainers. This made it less intimidating for a ballet novice like me.

I'd love to be able to give names for notable performances, but honestly (and shamefully) I'm not entirely sure who I was watching; In my haste to simply watch the production, I forgot to look at the cast board in the foyer and the main roles are regularly alternated.

The lead male roles are the most mesmerising - that is Caradoc, the dark fairy's son and Count Lilac, the king of the fairies. I was transfixed watching them. Princess Aurora is spritely and nature loving and very reminiscent of a wide-eyed disney princess.

I would certainly see more of Matthew Bourne's ballet's in the future and, perhaps, even try some more traditional ballet. This production has pulled down my barriers and opened up a whole new avenue of theatrical enjoyment.

Please visit the official website for tour information & booking. 

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