★★★★★ | Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake beautifully reimagines the traditional and well- loved ballet. Bringing the story into modern, regal times, it tells the story of The Prince who struggles with the repression of his life, but this changes when he meets The Swan, a powerful yet tender figure who offers comfort, solace and the belonging that The Prince longs for. But as The Prince struggles with his relationship with his icy mother, things start to unravel as a familiar looking stranger attends the Royal Ball.
Bourne’s signature contemporary twist on the classic ballet is simply outstanding and leads to a beautiful, moving and breath-taking piece of theatre. This version is perhaps best known for using an all-male ensemble for the bevy of swans, but whilst there is no denying the spectacular and dramatic impact of that, there are so many other elements which elevate this piece of dance to the dizzying heights it reaches. From the almost monochrome opening scenes in the palatial bedchamber to the vibrant explosion of colour in the Swank Bar, the modern twists provided by Bourne culminate in a fresh and vivacious production which constantly surprises and delights in equal measures
Utilising his flawless cast, Bourne’s choreography flows back and forth from the frenetic to the tender and from the comedic to the dramatic; infusing many different styles of dance seamlessly with the traditional Tchaikovsky score. Whilst the replacing of the female swans with a male ensemble brings with it a sensual homoeroticism to the piece, it also provides for a beautifully told love story between two men, something seldom seen in dance theatre.
Both Will Bozier as The Swan and Dominic North as The Prince simply excelled in their lead performances, with Bozier’s strength and fierceness being beautifully counterbalanced by North’s vulnerability and yearning. Equally Katrina Lyndon was utterly delightful as The Girlfriend, but it seems slightly unfair to single out any dancer from an ensemble who universally oozed such talent and charisma.
From the opening scenes to the terrifying and tearful finale, this show has everything to recommend it including humour, style, spectacle, originality and genuine emotion; and as the curtain fell, I could have happily had them reset the stage and start again. As a piece of theatre, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is simply sublime.
Swan Lake is rounding off its national tour at Sheffield Theatres, so don’t miss your last chance to see this magnificent production. Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures are also currently touring his new ballet, Romeo and Juliet, and his award winning The Red Shoes will be returning for another UK tour commencing in November 2019.