Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 14th February 2023

In this spookily spellbinding production, Matthew Bourne entices us into a darkly fantastical world full of fairies and vampires. Bourne's signature spin of surrealism is combined with Tchaikovsky's timeless score to create a twisted ballet that is engaging, if at times lacking in soaring emotion.

Whilst Sleeping Beauty is a much-loved fairytale, if the Disney version is your only reference point, you'll be quite surprised at what takes place on stage. This modern interpretation of an originally medieval tale, toes the line between reality and fantasy and really leans in to the Gothic elements to create a ballet with distinct acts that span centuries and allow for some very interesting moments. 

From the outset Lez Brotherston's set takes us to palace which feels eerily perfect and things go from there. Alongside Paule Constable's lighting, the whole show always feels like it's teetering on being a dream (or a nightmare) and you never quite know what's real and what's not.

The show is a real frenzy of drama, with various characters on their own personal journeys, and at times there's a slight lack of fluidity but on the other hand, this chaotic energy does add to the dark, frantic vibes.

As always, Bourne has assembled a stellar cast of dancers who perform both stunning solos and precise ensemble numbers. Katrina Lyndon is stunning in her youthful portrayal of the cursed Princess Aurora, whilst her suitor, Leo, The Royal Gamekeeper is played gloriously by  Stephen Murray. The duo work especially well together and really shine in their romantic moments. Paris Fitzpatrick is suitably menacing as Caradoc and is a sort of omnipresent demon overseeing the ballet. Stephanie Billers also gives an emotively strong performance as Queen Eleanor and  Daisy May Kemp is also a standout in  her role of Miss Maddox.

In the metaverse of Matthew Bourne, this show completes his trio of twisted fairytales, and there's even somewhat of an ode to Swan Lake with the Act Two fairy dance. Whilst it's not the most moving of pieces, it's certainly got some outstanding moments and is a change from the usual takes on a classic story. For something uniquely dark, Sleeping Beauty is well worth a visit.

photo credit: Johan Persson