Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is at Milton Keynes Theatre this week and the innovative choreographer has added some bite to the ballet classic.
Matthew Bourne made his name with bold re-imaginings of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (his was set in an orphanage and titled Nutcracker!) and Swan Lake (complete with a mesmerising ensemble of male swans). Seventeen years after the premiere of Swan Lake, Bourne’s company, New Adventures, is completing the Tchaikovsky trilogy with Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, a gothic interpretation of the Charles Perrault fairytale.
Storytellers and choreographers have adapted the potent plot before. Versions of the story explore the themes of good versus evil, the beauty of youth and transformation, the power of evil curses and the all-pervading idea of love conquering all. Walt Disney’s 1959 film sharpened the original narrative to create more of an ongoing love story. Somewhat more controversially, in 1985, avant-garde Swedish choreographer Mats Ek cast Aurora as a junkie, with a syringe being the cause of a pricked finger.
In Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, we still encounter the poisoned rose thorn that audiences expect – but the love story turns supernatural as vampires feature in the scenario.