REVIEW – Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff
SLEEPING Beauty – all cute fairies, lots of fairy dust and a dashing hero in shining armour – yes?
No, not in Matthew Bourne's gothic vision of this well-told tale.
Here we have faceless lovers, a dark, murderous and obsessed fairy and another good fairy with bite!
It is everything you would expect of Matthew Bourne, the man who brought us possibly the best ballet this reviewer has ever seen –in the critically acclaimed Swan Lake.
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In this, the third of his ballet pieces, which began with The Nutcracker, he takes us into the sumptuous gold and white world of Princess Aurora, played by Hannah Vassallo, the girl cursed by dark fairy Carabosse, played by Tom Jackson Greaves.
The story begins with a very cute and very lifelike puppet infant who delights in giving her servants the run-around, to much laughter from the audience.
Within this sumptuous set, come the good fairies with a beautiful dance for the infant Aurora.
But things soon turn ugly with the arrival of Carabosse and what is to come is foretold.
Now grown up, Aurora finds a love told through a stunningly beautiful dance involving her and Leo, the Royal Gamekeeper, but also her fate.
The story moves from the 19th century through to present day and here is where the world of Sleeping Beauty becomes truly dark and sinister.
Obsession, murderous intent, perversion, desperation – all come to the fore as we reach a dramatic finale.
Surround sound brings Tchaikovsky's music to new levels of engagement, and genius use of lighting, often from the sides of the stage and behind, transform the brilliant sets from one moment to the next, once sunny garden party, next mystical woodland, and then a neon and blood-red gathering full of evil and spite – a party for bad people.
If you thought ballet was all pink tutus and grace, then you have not seen what Matthew Bourne has done with it, how he has twisted it, and made it funny, dark and beautiful. This is a must-see production.