Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By Sandra Callard, February 2023
This revival of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty (cutely imagined as a reawakening by the marketing department) marks ten years since its premiere at Sadler’s Wells. This sumptuous show has grown with age, is a feast for the eyes and will leave reviewers like me saying things like, “If you only see one show this year…”
Bourne is a classical genius when it comes to ballet in all its glorious movements, and I guarantee you will be left breathless with joy as he once again delivers a sparkling range of dance movements that will make you gasp as you enjoy the most beautiful and novel Sleeping Beauty you have ever seen in a modern theatre. Every movement is beautiful, accurate and new, and will leave you speechless. Yes, I am certainly overcome with praise, and I am also happy and grateful that I have been lucky enough to see a performance of such perfection in my lifetime.
The talented dancers seemed to know they were doing something special as the leads, Katrina Lyndon and Stephen Murray, danced their hearts out as Princess Aurora and Leo the Gamekeeper, and their sadness and joy was startlingly real. I cannot praise enough every one of the dancers in this production as their perfection was total. They flawlessly produced a countless number of new movements and so deserved the rapturous praise given by the audience.
The special effects during this performance were the best I have ever seen on stage, and the audience could see and wonder very clearly as they encountered the feeling of a magical forest or a metal prison.
A delightful piece of fun was given to the patrons in the form of a sweet and very lifelike baby, as a very small Princess Aurora captured their hearts. It was unbelievably lifelike and cute and was a happy and unexpectedly clever few minutes. All of the above contributed to one of the best nights of theatre I have seen for a long time, as the wonderful music of Tchaikovsky played continually throughout the show, enabling the dancers to have the best musical backing in the world.
It is very rare when in a theatre and watching a performance to become aware that every other person around you is feeling exactly the same emotions as you are. I felt this quite early on in this performance of Sleeping Beauty, and for these reasons: People as a whole don’t move as they watch, they clap so quickly and eagerly at the end of each section of the show and can barely stop, and finally, the applause gets steadily louder as the show progresses until they simply cannot stop clapping at the curtain call.
All of these things were apparent to me as I watched with joy and happiness, and also because I executed all of the above as well. Truly a wonderful night of theatre – and if you only see one show this year…
images: Johan Persson