Liam Rudden: Matthew Bourne's 21st century Swan Lake soars

MATTHEW Bourne's new production of Swan Lake touches the soul - it's also very funny, fabulously cool and just a bit devastating.

Will Bozier

Playing all this week at The Festival Theatre, then touring, Bourne’s signature piece, which threw the ballet world into the turmoil and rapture in equal measure when it was first staged with an all-male corps de ballet in 1995, is a triumph of dance theatre.

Like so much of Bourne’s work, it’s akin to watching a beautifully choreographed silent movie, danced and acted to perfection.

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This latest production has been described as ‘retaining the iconic elements of the original production’ while returning ‘with a fresh look for the 21st century’.

By the interval on press night it was certainly ‘everything I remembered it being’ from the 2014 tour, “...and hopefully so much more,” chipped in Sir Matt when I mentioned this during the interval.

He wasn’t wrong.

Captivating and magical, the two hours 10 minute running time flies by as its stars, Bozier and North, arguably the Nureyev and Fonteyn of their generation on this showing (although I can imagine ballet purists gasping in disbelief at that statement), enchant, thrill and seduce.

Will Bozier, last seen as Harry, the Pilot, in Bourne’s Cinderella earlier this year, makes a forceful debut in the role of The Swan.

Playing opposite Bozier, who brings a tender masculinity to The Swan which he juxtaposes with the chill of his decadent, malicious Stranger, mesmerising contrasts, is Dominic North as The Prince.

North is no stranger to New Adventures’ audiences having danced such iconic roles as Cyril Vane in Dorian Gray (which premiered at The King’s in 2009 as part of the EIF), Leo in Sleeping Beauty and the title role in Edward Scissorhands with the company.

North joined New Adventures in 2004, performing as an ensemble swan in that year’s Swan Lake.

Five years later, when the production was remounted, he was promoted to Prince, the part he reprises in this production, bringing life to the delicate and emotionally fragile Royal with a heart-wrenching performance.

Partnered with Bozier’s dominant body-language and expressive physicality, their combined chemistry is compelling, with so much said in just the simplest of looks.

A fleeting glance here, a stolen peep there. It’s all about the eyes. Magnificent.

The pair are well supported. Nicole Kabera’s Queen is suitably regal and aloof. She proves the perfect foil for Katrina Lyndon’s ‘air-headed’ Girlfriend. Lydon’s infuses great comic timing into her role and is quite the scene-stealer, as she should be.

It’s great to see new talent in the swan ensemble too as New Adventures’ discoveries Andrew Ashton, Isaac Bowry and Harry Ondrak-Wright make their professional debuts having earned their wings in the Youth Ensemble of Bourne’s 2014 Lord of the Flies.

This Swan Lake is a spell-bing must see.