As with all of Matthew Bourne’s productions, it’s hard to know who the star of Cinderella is – Bourne for dreaming up his vision, the dancers for delivering it, or designer Lez Brotherston for creating a breathtaking world for us to inhabit. Then there’s Prokofiev, whose score plays no small part in drumming up our emotional response.
Dance review: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh ****
Suffice to say they all come together beautifully in this early Bourne show, originally created in 1997, considerably re-worked in 2010 but only now making its Scottish debut. Cinderella is no longer living in feudal times, in need of rescuing by a prince – she’s caught up in the trauma of Blitz-era London, a time when the knowledge you might die tomorrow means you’ll party tonight. And, of course, fall in love.
Brotherston’s set is stunning – the fancy trappings of Cinderella’s home fall away to reveal buildings devastated by air attack, iconic London underground stations and landmarks, and signs encouraging people to help the war effort. Rubbing shoulders with Cinderella’s onerous step-family are military personnel desperate for a good time before they head back into battle.
Prokofiev’s score is so closely associated with classical ballet, it’s fascinating to see Bourne’s quirky, funny and accessible movement dropped into it. Ashley Shaw is a thoroughly three-dimensional Cinderella, vulnerable yet strong and the perfect antidote for shell-shocked Harry, an RAF pilot played with equal complexity by Andrew Monaghan. Liam Mower, meanwhile, is mesmerising as as the “Angel” - Bourne’s version of the fairy godmother.
Until 9 June