Thursday, May 08, 2014

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

A friend and I went to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake on Tuesday at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. It seems incredible that this is eighteen years old; when I first heard the rumblings about the "All Male" version of Swan Lake I was an impoverished wife and mother with four children still at home, and much as I wanted to, the opportunity to see it never came my way.

Finally, with the sale of ebooks cushioning the worst of the impoverishments, and the production coming to my local theatre - I made it! And was it worth it! It is erroneously described as "All Male", there is a wonderful ensemble of gorgeous young women, too, it is simply the swans who are all male - and what swans they are. Not a pointe or a tutu in sight. Of course, I'd seen pictures and clips of them over the years, so I did know what to expect to a degree, but what I didn't expect was the sheer comedy in Act One. It isn't often I (or anybody else) laughs at ballet - indeed if you're talking traditional ballet you would probably be frozen out of the auditorium. The Northern Ballet, of whom I am very fond, provide lighter moments, and I frequently spend a whole evening in their company with a smile on my face, but Swan Lake actually makes you laugh.

Once Act Two is underway with the Prince stumbling into the swans' world, the comedy is lessened, obviously, but the emotional intensity is ratcheted up. And Act Three had me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath. And finally - the big finish. Yes, dear Reader - I cried. Properly. I felt a complete idiot until I noticed the lady next to me was surreptitiously putting away a handkerchief.

It's a wonderful company, and it seems wrong to pick anyone out, but I can't help it. Liam Mower as the Prince was so exactly right, and such a good actor - we knew what was in his head and what he was going through. Sadly, he isn't in the picture above. But The Swan is. THE Swan. Danced on Tuesday by Jonathan Ollivier, that swan has been swooping round  my head ever since. I've found it rare that a dancer is equally convincing in both roles in this ballet, but Ollivier manages that with bells on. I've said - often - I don't ever want to see the traditional Swan Lake again, but I could also say I don't want to see anyone else dance the Swan. He was magnificent. However, other Swans are available...

In case anyone reading this doesn't know all about it, I shan't give away any of the details. The friend I was with, although a ballet fan, didn't, to my surprise, know anything about the original Swan Lake, and found the story difficult to follow. And it didn't have the same effect on him as it did on me, but there, I'm an emotional old cow.

I am now trying to find other New Adventures productions to track down, and if I could, I would have gone to The Marlowe every day this week. Oh, and I can't stop without mentioning the Cygnets...

Go on - try and see it. You know you want to.

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