– A GOTHIC ROMANCE
– A GOTHIC ROMANCE
New Adventures at Sadler's Wells
Matthew Bourne's long-awaited completion of his Tchaikowsky trilogy comes to Sadler's Wells for a sell-out season, part of a tour which started down in Plymouth, and moves on via Milton Keynes to Moscow.
The specially recorded score sounds lush, but less obviously amplified than his Cinderella, and is trimmed to fit more neatly into Bourne's radical reworking of the story.
We begin in 1890 [Aurora's christening], the year the ballet premièred, and fast forward through 1911 [her coming of age] to 2011 [her awakening] and Last Night [her wedding].
Lez Brotherstone's design is gloriously Gothic for the opening, then opens out to an Edwardian Country House lawn – tea and tennis – and a slim forest lit by oil lamps, with a less impressive foray into a decadent nightclub.
The dancing is often inventive, occasionally heart-stoppingly beautiful in its execution. The entry of the Fairies, complete with candles, uses travelators to give an ethereal effect; the famous Waltz, watched over by a towering statue of a weeping angel, fills the lawn with movement, and the Rose Adagio becomes a romantic pas de deux, with a tragic, toxic black rose lying in wait for the headstrong princess and her gamekeeper lover.
Story-telling and character are Bourne's stock-in-trade, and here we have a barefoot, capricious Aurora, first encountered as a wonderful puppet, recognisable to anyone who's met an energetic, wayward toddler. A Lilac fairy who is a virtuous vampire ensures that the princess's Leo lives long enough to waken her with the traditional kiss. The battle between good and evil extends right through the story, with Carabosse succeeded by her vengeful son, Caradoc. Good triumphs, of course, and the happy-ever-after ending reserves one last surprise blessing before the curtain calls ...
In nearly 70 years of theatregoing (yes I started young) this production had the most unbelievably romantic, spectacular and beautiful impact of any production I've seen. It is up there with the feelings I had when I saw the films of The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffman as a young teenager. Even the Bolshoi's impact is up there with Beauty, yet different because of its sheer size and the effect of so many dancers performing in one highly distinctive style and the scale of the scenery.
Watching this Beauty I gasped at the continual surprises, the imaginative magic of the costumes and scenery, particularly the nightclub with its blood red colour. For anyone who knows about tailoring the immaculate work on these particular costumes was breathtaking. I wanted to cry with joy at the wonderfully worked out music and orchestration, the amazing atmosphere and brilliant imagination of it all.
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