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Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

 

Matthew Bourne's spectacular interpretation of Sleeping Beauty returns this week as the tenth anniversary production comes back to Milton Keynes Theatre.

Matthew Bourne has made a name for himself with his groundbreaking interpretations of classic ballets, and having already reimagined Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, he decided to complete the set with this third Tchaikovsky production.

This is an unforgettable production full of drama, beautiful costumes and sets and breathtaking movement telling the classic fairytale with a modern twist.

The story will be familiar to anyone who enjoyed fairytales as a child; a royal couple asks for help to conceive a child from Carabosse, the Dark Fairy. Bad move. When their little girl is born, gratitude is in short supply, so Carabosse gets her own back - big time. She casts a spell that hangs like a dark cloud over the Princess Aurora. Come the big bash on her 21st birthday, Aurora gets a short, sharp shock. But thank goodness for the intervention of a good fairy who at least can employ some damage limitation techniques.

The show opens in Edwardian times with a very realistic puppet-baby crawling around the stage and it's immediately clear that this isn't going to be a 'traditional' telling of the tale. With clever touches like a moving 'conveyor belt' at the back of the stage and eerie floating dancers in the darkness, it's technically brilliant as well as beautiful.

The interval in this show lasts for 100 years - and when the second half opens with a group of kids in modern clothes taking selfies outside Sleeping Beauty's overgrown palace, it's clear that there will be some dramatic contrasts between the Edwardian setting of the first half and the conclusion of the story. While the opening of the show is a glorious mix of Tchaikovsky’s waltz tunes and brightly coloured period costumes, the modern day equivalent is equally memorable. 

There are outstanding performances from Ashley Shaw as Princess Aurora who is cheeky and flirty when awake and impressively inanimate in her sleeping state with great technical skills   Her love interest, Leo the royal gardener is played by Stephen Murray who has a great chemistry with her.  There's also strong performances from the baddies Carabosse the dark fairy and her son Caradoc, both played by the convincingly evil Paris Fitzpatrick and Dominic North, as the good fairy king Count Lilac.

The dancing is technically brilliant throughout with split second timing, perfect coordination with the music and incredible skill.  Matthew Bourne has created a truly magical experience which will delight you whether it’s your ballet debut or you're already a fan.

 

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