A good ballet transports you away to another land for a few short hours. Exceeding all of my high expectations, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty created a dreamland of magic, love and vampiric fairies (more on that later) that weaved an unbreakable spell on the entire audience.
Adapted into a gothic romance, the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty begins in 1890 when we are introduced to baby Aurora. Not content with carrying around a bundle of blankets, she is deftly moved by puppeteers to create a hilariously naughty princess. Soon enough though, she is visited by the fairies including the evil fairy Carabosse who places the deadly curse on her. However, the plot thickens with Carabosse’s death before Aurora can reach her sixteenth birthday as her son Caradoc is left behind with a thirst for revenge. We learn about the forbidden romance between Leo, the Royal Gamekeeper, and Aurora before Caradoc slips deftly into her coming of age party and fulfils the curse.
The timescale covers over 100 years, taking us right to the dark and slightly Fifty Shades-esque finale in the present day. Caradoc and Leo, still alive thanks to a well-timed vampire bite from the King of the Fairies Count Lilac (danced by Associate Choreographer Christopher Marney), battled for Aurora in an unsettling and confrontational atmosphere. The time periods are exquisitely represented with the costumes, from dark fairies wearing black eye masks to Edwardian garden party attire, and the land of the sleepwalkers where Aurora sleeps is gently eerie.
Of course, the cast were outstanding and a special mention has to go to Tom Clark, whose portrayal of Carabosse / Caradoc (pictured above as Caradoc) dominated the stage in a such sinister way that I couldn’t take my eyes off him! Aurora (Ashley Shaw) was wonderfully spirited, unlike your typically unbelievable fairytale pincess, and the chemistry between her and Leo (Dominic North) was unmistakable. The sets were more stunning than any I have ever seen – considering how impressed I was with Le Corsaire in November, this is saying something – and moving parts of the stage added an etheral quality to the fairies movements.
I’ve raved about this ballet to everybody I’ve spoken to over the last few days and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. While the final show in Liverpool takes place tomorrow, the UK tour continues until May so, even if you don’t think you would enjoy the ballet, I can promise that you’ll be spellbound by Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty.
Find out more about New Adventures Sleeping Beauty.