NEXT year will be the 20th anniversary of Matthew Bourne’s re-imagining of the most famous work in the classical ballet canon.
Which, in some ways, is hard to believe. Far from waning, interest in the show is bigger than ever, with a sell-out audience (and full standing ovation) greeting the performers in Glasgow.
It also says something about Bourne’s mass appeal that the broad demographic he attracts has been happy to watch – and believe in – a male love affair for the past 20 years. Because, for the benefit of anyone who has been living under a rock, the swans in Bourne’s version are all played by men.
Without wishing to negate the absolute beauty of the female corps de ballet in traditional Swan Lakes, you can’t help but think Bourne has tapped into something far more real. Naked from the waist up, the 15 men are the epitome of power and grace, their swooping arms and menacing demeanour reminiscent of the real bird under threat.
Worn down by a life of monotony, and starved of love by his emotionally repressed mother, the Prince (played with absolute conviction by Andrew Monaghan) comes alive when he meets a flock of swans – and one swan in particular (a role Jonathan Ollivier makes completely his own). The sheer happiness Monaghan conveys makes the tragic ending all the more poignant.
Touching love story aside, Bourne’s trademark wit, glitz and glamour in the set and costume department, Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score and a hugely talented cast make this a winner from start to finish.
Rating: * * * * *