Saturday, 18 February 2023

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

A decade since its glorious premiere, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty became the fastest-selling production in the New Adventures’ history when it was revived at Sadler’s Wells just a few months ago. Now embarking on another UK tour, the delights and dreams of this production find their way to a theatre near you, so you have no excuse to miss this utterly sensational ballet.

This gothic turn of the classic fairy tale beguiles and bewitches. It is a haunting and dark reimagining of the story of Princess Aurora we all know so well. With vampires, fairies and sorcerers at every turn, this production is not your typical fairy tale by any standard. Described as a “Gothic Romance”, there is much conflict and violence to be seen here. With peril seemingly around every corner and much to be feared, Sleeping Beauty keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The staples of the story remain unchanged: the beautiful princess is cursed to sleep for 100 years before being awoken by true love’s kiss, but that’s about it. Matthew Bourne’s reputation precedes him not just as a choreographer but as a re-inventor of the classics. His creative team, led by Lez Brotherston, have designed a set and sensational costumes which immerse you completely. Before a single performer has even set foot on the stage, you are completely transported to the 19th Century and feel intently placed within the scene.

Despite this intense gothic atmosphere, there is much light in the delicate nature of Aurora, performed at Woking’s Press Night by Katrina Lyndon. She has a youthful and contagious energy; a restlessness seen in young women who plainly want more than what their environment tells them they are allowed. The entire New Adventures company, as always, blew me away. With some dancers having been in the company for almost twenty years, it is a staggering display of talent, athleticism and performance.

Tchaikovsky’s iconic score was clearly nostalgic for many in the audience with certain melodies being met with approving “ooo”s and loud applause. The music is so perfectly interpreted with Bourne’s choreography leaning just right on the lines of comedy and drama throughout. It is the use of puppetry which elevates this production to exceptional heights.

If you are keen to expand your theatrical taste buds and experience something “familiar but different” then this may be just the thing for you. Sleeping Beauty played to a full house at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre last night so for a fantastic atmosphere, sensational talent and technical excellence, you couldn’t ask for a better production.

Review by Harriet Langdown 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: F35 | Price of Ticket: £30.50 - £59.00 (depending on which day of the week you attend)
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