Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty Review: New Wimbledon Theatre
Baby Aurora Makes a Compelling Start
Bourne has a knack for making ballet accessible to all and this is apparent within the first few minutes of the piece as we are introduced to Baby Aurora, a moving baby puppet of eye-catching veracity, causing more than a chuckle as it moves around with innocent and sweet showmanship.
There is something fitting about New Wimbledon Theatre's backdrop to the piece as the tone begins to darken with the initiation of the Second Act after the frivolity of Victorian life gives the audience a chance to engage with a more innocent start with fairies and all things fluttery.
Gothic Fairy Tale Elements in Sleeping Beauty
The sleeping curse of Aurora then sees the menacing Dark Fairy Carabosse makes a dramatic entrance as faceless dancers swarm with intent to a shocked Royal couple as the dance begins to take on a more dramatic twist with thunder in movements and sounds. Liam Mover plays the mother and Caradoc her son with the required malevolence.
Ashly Shaw plays the young Aurora with a carefree glee, wanting to kick off her shoes and move away from the rather stagey dressed up circles of Edwardian garden parties which reminds one of Wimbledon tennis in the dainty days before musclebound hunks battered tennis balls. The choreography is lovingly produced in this text book piece which ends with the sinister side making evil envelop the stage..
Bold End as Aurora Wakes up and Weds
There is a dramatic gate closure as the Princess falls under the spell but the clever links in the story mean that this is much more of a romance between the lovers, giving a developed sorrow to the gardener Leo, who is crestfallen as Aurora is caught floating in a space that can't be reached by love or physical force.
The Gothic element dazzles and provides a stirring heartfelt sorrow to the innocence of our young romantics. There are powerful scenes that defy the dimensions of the stage, all rip roaring menace amid the gloomy castle.
After the interval, the time zone shifts to a modern day scenario as tourists take selfies and create a more accessible, perhaps too accessible, mind shift of paradigms and purpose as we now reach a thrilling, ravishing red costumed end game after which finally Aurora finally weds Leo.
The elements of classic Sleeping Beauty are still there but the narrative is driven by a bigger play on the good and evil and the development of the love story. The ballet has a couple of lulls in the longer sequences but in actual fact this is no real criticism as the piece moves from dance to hunting to different century styles with exquisite ease.