BWW Review: MATTHEW BOURNE'S CINDERELLA, King's Theatre Glasgow
As children, we are brought up on fairy tales set in far faraway lands. A boy-meets-girl story, typically helped by dancing animals or singing furniture.
By now, you might think you know Cinderella off by heart - but think again. Swap the enchanted woodland for London. Set your typical happy ever after during the UK's "darkest hour" of the Second World War. And you have Matthew Bourne's ballet production of Cinderella.
Bourne first breathed new life into this tale in 1997, with this world tour direct from the West End now currently travelling across the UK, marking its second revival. Audiences across the world have been captivated by the enchanting piece, which consistently keeps one glass slipper in reality. From PTSD to LGBTQ issues, mental health to male identity, there is an unexpected grit throughout.
Though connected through history - Sergei Prokofiev composed Cinderella during World War II - the Blitz setting feels unusual to begin with, but this was a time when different classes were crossing divides to pull together as a nation. Ideal for a "pauper-to-princess" romance.
Visually, Cinderella is a work of art. Neil Austin's mesmerising lighting channels cinematic allure and suspense. Lez Brotherston's costumes float seamlessly from monochrome to majestic. His sets sweep you straight into a slick, stylised 1940s London.
You can almost smell the Champagne of yesteryear Café de Paris, the location for the "ball" - which in reality was bombed during World War II. The creative team deliver to the height of their profession. A perfect example of how theatre can transport you to another time and place.
Compared to other classic ballets that the New Adventures team have taken on, Prokofiev's composition is not the most memorable. Maybe this is due the lack of melodies which have crossed over into mainstream culture, but Cinderella's score feels like it's missing a standout number, like the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Nutcracker.
But Paul Groothuis' sound design makes the most out of the music. It plays like a film score, matching pitch perfectly with Bourne's moments of tenderness and drama.
Liam Mower as The Angel glides between the light and dark of the story with a sprinkle of fairy dust. The entire cast's love for the non-traditional Bourne style shines through, their acting ability flourishing through characterisation. Every facial expression tells the story clearly, without the need for words.
Bourne's choreography has his unique signature all over it. From the structured style of the mannequin duet, to the clock arms of the angel and winged movements of the pilots, the personal contemporary touches add an extra finesse not found in stricter ballet companies. His je ne sais quoi, humour and imaginative staging make ballet accessible to everyone.
Matthew Bourne's Cinderella is a show you could and should see 100 times. And you would still not see all parts. No board on the stage is left lazing idly; every section is constantly fluttering with storytelling, and razor-sharp choreography.
Bourne's ballets read like a book. Each page you flip awakes a new spin on a story or character build you did not expect. Which is literally the case every night, as the limitlessly talented dancers switch roles during the show run, making each performance fresh.
Matthew Bourne's Cinderella runs at The King's Theatre Glasgow until the 16 June.
For the world tour dates see https://new-adventures.net/cinderella
Photo credit: Johan Persson