Review: Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty, Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham | Entertainment | Published:

Vampires, tattoos, hoodies – it's ballet but definitely not as we usually know it.

This is ballet with a bite – and it's a feast to get your teeth into.

Sleeping Beauty, one of the grandest ballets of all, has travelled through time with a radical update by choreographer Matthew Bourne, who has already caused a stir with contemporary versions of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

Gothic romance – Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty is a haunting ballet

This time he shakes up tradition by awakening the heroine Princess Aurora in the present and ditching the idea of love at first sight with a handsome prince. Instead she is pursued through time by her childhood sweetheart – the royal gamekeeper.

Bourne's production begins with Aurora's christening in 1890 and it's the baby princess who steals the scene appearing as an adorable life-like puppet. It then fast-forwards to Edwardian times when the evil fairy puts Aurora to sleep until she is awoken by a kiss in modern times.

It could almost be Downton Abbey meets Twilight as Bourne mixes a touch of Edwardian elegance with a gothic twist.

The costumes make the most of the span of years, ranging from the stiff brocades of the 1890s, festooned in jewels and embroidery, through the soft cream linens of Edwardian suits to the brilliant vampish reds in a modern day nightclub scene. The production dispenses with a live orchestra in favour of recorded music, but the drama of the dance and stage sets do justice to Tchaikovsky's wonderfully powerful score, which manages to sound as fresh as ever.

Hannah Vassallo, who plays Aurora, and Dominic North, who is Leo, the gamekeeper, have a superb chemistry as they dance their way through this gothic romance.


The show, which runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, is a sell-out with an extra performance added this afternoon .

If you were lucky enough to get your hands on tickets, you will not be disappointed. This is one to see.

Maria Cusine

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