Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake UK tour Review
Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake (UK Tour)
If standing ovations are anything to go by, the 10th Anniversary tour of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is going to be thrilling audiences up and down the UK. If the word 'ballet' makes you think of tutus, lots of gesturing and overlong scenes that lead the narrative full circle, then you really need to experience Bourne's world of dance. Like Play Without Words and Highland Fling, this illuminating piece really does leave you feeling quite breathless.
This is one of ballet's best known works featuring the beautiful music of Tchaikovsky. But the twist here is that all of the swans are played by males. So although the story remains the same- swans by day become human in form by night and bewitch the character of Siegfried. This man's attention is swayed by the beauty of a princess, Odette – one of the swans. This beautiful sweeping tale is reinvigorated due to Bourne's modern adjustments and none of this jars with the audience as the sheer spectacle and heart of the original remains.
Visually you will not find anything as stimulating on stage at the moment. Bourne fills the stage with such wonders that it is very difficult to take your eyes off the stage. Lez Brotherston's epic set and wonderful costumes give the whole show a grand scale which adds to the emotion. Bourne himself adds so much humour and poignancy to the dance moves and within the narrative that you will be smiling one moment and wiping a tear the next.
The whole cast is tremendous. Each movement is so delicate and at the same time exhilarating to watch. Each of them rises to the challenge of Bourne's incredible task. The rich humour which the script demands is evident throughout via body language and the odd shout, sigh or unexpected laughter but most of the comedy comes from mime. This is not an easy thing to carry off on such a big stage, but this talented troupe deliver the laughs. It is very difficult to single any cast members out for praise as each and every one of them glide across the stage effortlessly, perfectly capturing every emotion that is demanded of them.
The only downside of the production is the lack of a live orchestra. But with such stunning set pieces on stage and the classic sounds of Tchaikovsky, no-one seemed to really be complaining at the Lowry on the night I attended.
If you expect ballet to be highbrow yet long for it to have an injection of sexiness and an energetic sense of the here and now, then this wonderful show is for you. But to be honest, I cannot see that anybody will fail to be swept away by the high drama, clever comedy, or poignant emotion that is Matthew Bourne's vivacious vision of Swan Lake.
Reviewed at the Lowry, Salford, UK