17th Feb, 2019

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is a mind-blowing must-see

Catherine Thompson 7th Feb, 2019 Updated: 7th Feb, 2019

MATTHEW Bourne’s somber yet deliciously dark reimagining of Swan Lake not only confounded my rookie preconceptions of ballet but left me completely and utterly spellbound.

With not a leotard or tutu in sight, I was blown away by the startling twists and turns right from the opening nightmare sequence.

The only time it came close to my shameful prejudices was during a self-parodying scene when dainty ballerina butterflies danced the equivalent of channel five daytime TV – beautifully I might add.

Stand out performances included – ‘The Girlfriend’ – the lower class love interest whose novel ability to combine graceful and goofy injected unexpected comedy.

Meanwhile the Prince – set apart by his pyjama costume – gave a stunning performance with his movements traversing from playful naivety to heart-wrenching emotion and finally his feverish descent into madness.

And the insidious Stranger was a worthy villain, seamlessly transforming from the Prince’s rival to his tortured fantasy – The Swan.

Not to mention the game-changing, male ensemble was majestic as it was powerful. Their writhing bodies and twisting heads represented an imminent danger reflected in choreography – from seedy nightclub to ballroom sequences – throughout the production.

Stunning set designs, courtesy of Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable, complemented each scene including the haunting lake itself framed by white, skeletal trees and a full moon. Others, particularly in the first half, were vibrant with popping sets striking a stark contrast with the febrile energy of the later sequences.

While I haven’t seen the classical production, Bourne’s rendition left me positively reeling – as though I was being treated to a personal encore staged in my brain.

And not only did I leave a full convert, but wondering whether 32 is too old to become a ballet dancer.

Swan Lake is showing at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday February 16 with tickets from £21.

Visit birminghamhippodrome.com to book.

Subscribe

Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.

Recruitment

Find a career you'll love with our free career finder website.

Public Notices

View and download all of the public notices in the Leamington Observer.

Announcements

Weddings, Birthdays, Bereavements, Thank you notices, Marriages and more.