Sleeping Beauty - Matthew Bourne

Previewed 1 December 2015, Opened 9 December 2015, Closed 24 January 2016 at Sadler's Wells

The return of Matthew Bourne's re-imagining of the ballet classic Sleeping Beauty in London at the Sadler's Wells Theatre for a strictly limited eight week Christmas season!

This timeless fairy tale, about a young girl cursed to sleep for 100 years, was turned into a legendary ballet in 1890. We meet our heroine, Aurora, at her Christening, when fairies and vampires fed the gothic imagination, before the story moves forward a century to the modern day. Matthew Bourne's haunting new production is a gothic romance; a supernatural love story that even the passage of time cannot hinder. This production sees Matthew Bourne return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of ballet masterworks that started with Nutcracker! and the international smash hit Swan Lake.

This production was originally seen here at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in December 2012 when its run sold out before its first performance - it now returns here by popular demand for a strictly limited eight week season. With choreography by Matthew Bourne, designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Paule Constable with sound by Paul Groothuis. Originally seen at Sadler's Wells Theatre when it previewed from 4 December 2012, opened on 7 December 2012 and closed on 26 January 2013. Matthew Bourne's other full length ballets include adaptations of Tim Burton's motion picture Edward Scissorhands, Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray and a re-imagined version of Bizet's Carmen called The Car Man.

When this production originally opened in December 2012, Judith Mackrell in the The Guardian highlighted how "from the minute we see the winged silhouette of the wicked Carabosse, it's clear that Matthew Bourne and his designer, Lez Brotherston, have found wonderfully deviant new ways of revealing their material." concluding that "in Bourne's clever gothic rewrite, he has discovered something beguiling and true." Debra Craine in the Times hailed "Bourne's exuberant reimagining", adding that "New Adventures is a small company but they all deliver big performances in a demanding, action-packed evening." Mark Monahan in the Daily Telegraph thought it was "a flawed production but one with a beating heart and a twinkle in its eye." Keith Watson in the London Metro described how Matthew Bourne's "ensemble pieces are a tightly choreographed delight. But he never quite navigates a way out of the densely plotted narrative he's set himself. When at his best, Bourne movingly reinvents the form. But this Beauty merely strums our heart-strings, never quite plucking them." Clement Crisp in the Financial Times said that "it has clever design by Lez Brotherston, uses a loud and crassly trimmed account of the score, and proposes a modernised narrative tediously complex and superficial, one that Bourne has nailed onto his score with a singular lack of finesse or sensitivity." Zoe Anderson in the Independent wrote that "Lez Brotherston's designs are magnificent... He and Bourne have a sure sense of atmosphere. There's a gothic chill as the gates close on the sleeping Aurora, and a touch of wonder about the passing of time." Neil Norman in the Daily Express commented that "the big problem is that Matthew Bourne cannot control his imagination and the work suffers from his delight in plundering plays, films, paintings and other ballets... Even as narrative sense flies out of the window in the second half, when it becomes more courtly masque than ballet, the sheer wealth of activity keeps you watching." Lyndsey Winship in the London Evening Standard thought that "the real problem with Bourne is that it's all very broad brush. It's what makes his work accessible - but it only dances in front of your eyes and not into your heart."

"This extraordinary work completes Matthew Bourne's Tchaikovsky Trilogy of Nutcracker! and Swan Lake, topped now with Sleeping Beauty. At last Bourne's previous slow development of a comprehensive dance langage is almost neck and neck with his mastery of stagecraft... Lez Brotherston's designs are Gothic, dark and complex but never impinge of the space needed to dance and the moonlit bedroom, where the fairies of supposed good fortune come to bless the infant is spacious... The ancient strife between good and evil is defined by vampires and fairies leading the poor innocent humans up memorial garden paths... Bourne creates real dances for them to some of the most famous ballet tunes in the world and it works. The story whizzes by at a furious pace... One of Bourne's most beautiful and successful pieces of choreography is the romantic couple's ultimate love duet. Tender and musical, the steps precisely capture Tchaikovsky's message of love. Fantastic." The Sunday Express

"Marius Petipa's original ballet was conceived as a glorious spectacle packed with superlative classical dancing and a score tailored to every step. However strong his design team, however sparky his ideas, Matthew Bourne was always going to struggle to fill such large helpings of Tchaikovsky (however ruthlessly edited). Even when judged purely on its own terms, his Sleeping Beauty is oddly flat and uninvolving... Minor roles are straight from the Bourne menagerie - fussy servants, slinky lounge lizards, chinless toffs - but the leads are equally formulaic... A real orchestra might have helped flesh out the production's longueurs, but live music - the lifeblood of any great dance show - has been sacrificed to the design budget. Lez Brotherston's sets are handsome with a gorgeous frame of gilded Corinthian columns and drapes for the royal palace; a magical transformation for the woodland vision scene; and cunning use of a moving pavement." The Sunday Telegraph

"Matthew Bourne, going against expectation, sticks with a poisoned rose-thorn. It's only later in the game that he gleefully plays his wild card: vampires. In theory, this is not as outlandish as it first seems. As ever, Bourne is meticulous in his research, and has done his sums. Setting the first part of his story in 1890, the date of the original ballet's premiere, and tracking forward to Aurora's coming-of-age in 1911, when she pricks her finger and falls asleep for 100 years... The more pressing question is whether the sleeping beauty story, and Tchaikovsky's largely sunlit score, can withstand the intrusion of such a crepuscular aesthetic. The short answer is that they can't, although the ingenuity it takes from Bourne to squeeze a square peg into a round hole offers entertainment in itself... The show is tightly performed, brilliantly designed and produced, and clean as a whistle in execution... His Sleeping Beauty has plenty of style and incident, but it fails to connect on an emotional level. Ultimately, audiences may be moderately entertained but they won't be moved, and that does no honour to the greatest ballet score of all." The Independent on Sunday

"Like all his productions, Sleeping Beauty is an eye-popping achievement, and its best moments are unforgettable... We are carried along by the adroit staging, the zeitgeisty references and Lez Brotherston's wonderful designs. The fairies wear tattered, timeworn court garments from the 18th century, Aurora's nursery is pure Victorian gothic, and the Act 3 denouement unfolds in an S&M-inflected contemporary nightclub. It all looks darkly, wickedly fabulous. But Tchaikovsky's score is telling a more profound and less style-driven story, and there are times when Bourne 's neo-expressionistic choreography is unequal to its formal grandeur... Too often you find yourself applauding Bourne's conceptual dexterity instead of being transported by a truly theatrical experience. While this Sleeping Beauty undoubtedly ravishes the eye, it never quite touches the heart." The Observer

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty in London at Sadler's Wells Theatre with previewed from 1 December 2015, opened on 9 December 2015 and closed on 24 January 2016.