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Review: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, Newcastle Theatre Royal

YOU don’t always see folk in the Theatre Royal boxes but Matthew Bourne is definitely a box-booker.

The Company of Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty
The Company of Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

YOU don’t always see folk in the Theatre Royal boxes but Matthew Bourne is definitely a box-booker.

The choreographer’s reinvention of Sleeping Beauty completes his trilogy of Tchaikovsky’s ballet masterworks, and is possibly Bourne’s own masterpiece.

It’s a gothic fairytale beginning with Aurora’s birth in 1890, when the childless king and queen are presented with a daughter (a superb puppet) by dark fairy Carabosse.

Failing to reward Carabosse leads to disaster as her son Caradoc wreaks his revenge at Aurora’s 21st birthday party, set in the Edwardian summer of 1911.

100 years of sleep later and Bourne fast-forwards to 2011, where Aurora’s prince – royal gamekeeper Leo – waits to kiss the princess.

Strangely, in a production where the supernatural is only a wing-flutter away from ‘reality’ in the form of vampiric fairies, spells and curses, Bourne has endeavoured to choreograph a story with believable characters.

Aurora (Hannah Vassallo) is a spirited young woman who throws off her birthday boots so she can dance more freely, enchanting all the men including Caradoc (Tom Jackson Greaves), who is tormented by her beauty.

The gardener/gamekeeper (Chris Trenfield) is a bit like Doctor Who’s companion Rory, who dotes on Amelia Pond and waits an eternity to save her. The love scene during Aurora’s birthday party is compelling and although Leo may not match the power of Caradoc’s sinister sensuality, his undying love is credible.

The second half takes Leo into the land of sleepwalkers, angelic in their undies, and then on to a devilish and dangerous nightclub ruled by Caradoc, all brilliantly designed by Lez Brotherston.

Bourne “humbly” dedicates this Twilight interpretation of Sleeping Beauty to the memory of Tchaikovsky. What would the composer think of his edited score? Maybe he would be applauding in one of the boxes.

Tamzin Lewis

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