Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at Sadler’s Wells is a magnificent and moving reinterpretation of this ancient story through dance and is not to be missed. All the enchantments and charm of the fairytale are referenced before it is is transported along new dramatic pathways into the present day, telling poignantly of connections across time, recognised though invisible. Bourne calls the show a gothic romance. It could be called a beautiful and exciting time machine.
On every level this show is superlative. Sleeping Beauty is directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne. As well as describing the action, the choreography in every instance also brilliantly communicates character. Where there’s ferocity this is described through movement, where there’s malign intent being concealed this is shown through stillness, a lack of movement. Caradoc, danced with devastating power by Paris Fitzpatrick, is only seen in all his degeneracy when he finally dances, as a reveal.
The choreographed duets between Princess Aurora and Leo, the Royal Gamekeeper, are gorgeous and affecting, describing the irresistibility of attraction. She is shown as a girl moving from the wilful unknowingness of childhood into the springtime of her life, all air and light while Leo, danced, by Andrew Monaghan, is grounded, of the earth, dogged and determined. It is a great pleasure to watch these two dancing together.
Ashley Shaw is perfect in the role of Princess Aurora. Entirely believable she is no cardboard facade, she inhabits the spirit of the role entirely.
Another stand-out performance is the substantial part performed by Dominic North as the King of the Fairies. His footwork is superb, his dancing exciting and he casts enchantment in the role, not only in the story.
The set references from the start the style of well-known fairy story illustrations and harnesses a captivating use of beauty. There is also a particularly clever trick employed by the designer, Lez Brotherston, so that it seems as if dancing fairies are disappearing on stage, before your eyes. By the end of the show, you may feel as if you have been transported to another, magical world and the real world requires adjustment for reentry.
What an achievement is this production by all involved.
Review by Marian Kennedy
Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty reawakens in 2022, celebrating 10 years since its premiere at Sadler’s Wells, when it became the fastest selling production in the company’s history.
Now established as a firm favourite in the New Adventures repertoire, the award-winning Sleeping Beauty has enchanted international audiences throughout the UK and across the globe.
Enter a wondrous world of magical fairies and vampires, where the timeless tale of good vs evil is turned upside-down, creating a supernatural love story that even the passage of time itself cannot hinder. Will Princess Aurora ever find her true love again?
Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty
7 December 2022 – 15 January 2023