Sleeping Beauty by Matthew Bourne at Sadler’s Wells

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Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is a masterpiece. It’s a stunning reworking of the fairy tale with new story elements. Its beautiful sets and costumes compliment ballet and dance of the highest quality. The Gothic tone and humour round this up as the perfect spectacle for all.

Set in 1890, we are introduced to the young princess as a baby as she is visited by the ‘vampire’ fairies who all give her a baptism gift. She is visited by Carabosse as well who comes to put a curse on her. In this version, Carabosse is replaced by her son after the initial opening. When the princess is older she pricks her finger on a rose and falls asleep under the curse made by Carabosse. The young man of her affections is bitten by a vampire fairy in order to have the chance to rescue her from her slumber 100 years later.

This reworking of the story adds so many new layers to the story. Carabosse’s son waits for the princess to wake up so he can have her for himself. The shift in time also allows for a change in dance styles which become more contemporary in the second act.

This was a triumph – a fantastic example of what ballet should be. Full of rich storytelling, sets and costumes, that can appeal to anyone. Matthew Bourne is very well known for his tremendous work with his New/Adventures company bringing ballet with strong narratives and contemporary interpretations to a wider audience. Here he has achieved this again spectacularly.

Highlight of the show – Our first meeting with the fairies with each of them having their own unique dance. Set-wise, Carabosse’s son’s lair, beautifully lit with the hanging neon lights and red glow – some kind of mix between church and sex club, the perfect vampire hangout. And a of course a mention for the extremely well manipulated puppet baby.

WIGS 5/5

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