It's Preview night of Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty in Glasgow's Kings Theatre. And we (me and my dear friend Drushkie) are two very excited girls because we have been invited along to this very special viewing.
Matthew Bourne's reputation precedes him. He is one of the most talented Choreographers in the business, he is known as the UK's most popular and successful Choreographer/Director. He is the creator of the world's longest running ballet production, a five-time Olivier Award winner, and the only British Director to have won the Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography. So it's clear to see why we were so excited.
Sleeping Beauty sees the Choreographer return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of the composer's ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker and, most famously, in 1995, with the international hit Swan Lake.
Matthew Bourne's new scenario introduces several characters not seen in Petipa's famous Ballet or Grimm's fairy tale. The Royal Family is headed by King Benedict and Queen Eleanor. Princess Aurora's romantic interest is not a Prince, but the royal gamekeeper, Leo. Representing the central forces of good and evil are Count Lilac ("the King of the Fairies") and the Dark Fairy Carabosse. In another innovation, Bourne has created the character of Caradoc, the sinister but charming son of Carabosse. Princess Aurora's Fairy Godparents are named Ardor, Hiberna, Autumnus, Feral and Tantrum.
Perrault's timeless fairy tale, about a young girl cursed to sleep for one hundred years, was turned into a legendary ballet by Tchaikovsky and choreographer, Marius Petipa, in 1890. Bourne takes this date as his starting point, setting the Christening of Aurora, the story's heroine, in the year of the ballet's first performance; the height of the Fin-de-Siecle period when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination. As Aurora grows into a young woman, we move forwards in time to the more rigid, uptight Edwardian era; a mythical golden age of long Summer afternoons, croquet on the lawn and new dance crazes. Years later, awakening from her century long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day; a world more mysterious and wonderful than any Fairy story.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fabulous costumes created by the Tony and Olivier award-winning designer Lez Brotherston. Poor Lez had quite a task on his hands. He had to create costumes that would work for the late Victorian period through the Edwardian era, to the present day. And he did it very well, the costumes for each era are outstanding and a definite star of the show is the costume design. In each and every scene the costumes convey a great deal, very reflective of what is happening in each scene. Lez has a great understanding and a fabulous grasp of what it is that Matthew is hoping to communicate in each scene. And this is a clear indication of the genius that is Lez Brotherston, presented with such a great challenge he managed to rise to the occasion. And this was down to his extensive knowledge of historical costumes and clothing.
The most outstanding scene costume-wise definitely has to be identified as the red and black scene. It was boldly confrontational, confident, sensual and quite dangerous. Very evocative and deeply moving. This was ninety five percent communicated not only through the dance, but also through the costume.
We were surprised to find that the performance didn't take itself too seriously there were many comical elements. And without doubt the opening scene was the most comical, throughout the show, the baby steals the show.
Matthew Bourne's haunting new scenario is a gothic tale for all ages; the traditional tale of good vs. evil and rebirth is turned upside-down, creating a supernatural love story, across the decades, that even the passage of time itself cannot hinder.
The Company of Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty
Christopher Marney as Count Lilac
Hannah Vassollo as Aurora