Theatre Review | Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

★★★★★ Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty | In a reworking of the classic fairy tale, Princess Aurora is cursed by the dark fairy, Carabosse, to die after pricking her finger on a rose on her 21st birthday. But after Carabosse dies in exile, her son Caradoc vows to avenge his mother and fulfil her curse. But things don’t go according to plan and instead, Aurora falls into a deep sleep for 100 years, meaning that is down to Leo, the royal groundskeeper and Aurora’s true  love, and Count Lilac, King of the Fairies, to save her; in this gothic, romantic, love story that transcends the centuries.

Photo Credit: Johan Persson

Bourne is known for placing a contemporary spin on a classic ballet score, having already taken on two of Tchaikovsky’s greatest, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake with great success; and he completes his trilogy with Sleeping Beauty, setting a fresh take on the story to the time honoured traditional score, with an elegant production.

Bourne delivers some intricate and masterful choreography that veers between the playful, the romantic and the dramatic; as he floods the stage with waves of movement to completely mesmerise the audience, clearly define the characters and progress the narrative. Where he really succeeds is the pacing of the piece, as it opens strongly and keeps building and building, with each set piece seemingly bettering the one before.

The cast were universally outstanding, with Ashley Shaw demonstrating a natural grace and skill with her portrayal of Princess Aurora. Chris Trenfield was delightfully charismatic and alluring as Leo and Adam Maskell revelled in his deliciously dark dual roles as both Carabosse and Caradoc, roles which he has clearly now defined. But equally, there was very little to separate out the remaining ensemble whose technical skill, timing, precision and uniformity was impeccable, from their delicate and intricate movements to their facial expressions.

From the jolting opening scene with its booming thunder to the thrilling final act (which I shall not spoil), Sleeping Beauty is a sumptuous production with an overlay of vampirism, gothic beauty and visuals which enchant and enthral. In a show which oozes quality from every aspect, in terms of set, costume, lighting, direction, performance and visuals, it amount to two hours of simply breath-taking, flawless and unforgettable theatre.

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Sleeping Beauty is currently at Sheffield Theatres until 21st May 2016 ( Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures have recently announced Matthew Bourne’s new production, The Red Shoes, which will have its world premiere in Plymouth in November 2016 and which is to tour nationwide in 2016/17. Visit for details.


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About the author: Paul Szabo
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.