Sleeping Beauty casts a magical spell

MBs Sleeping Beauty
MBs Sleeping Beauty
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Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, The Lyceum Theatre

It’s no wonder a standing ovation greeted the performers at the end of the opening night of Sleeping Beauty.

This is yet another spellbinding ballet from the unfailingly excellent Matthew Bourne.

It’s Sleeping Beauty - but not quite as we know it.

There’s the Tchaikovsky score, the king and queen, and their beautiful princess cast into a hundred-year slumber by the prick from a thorn on a tainted rose.

But there are plenty of unexpected turns in this most traditional of fairytales too, from fantastical new characters created especially for the production to a modern-day finale and more than a touch of Twilight and True Blood.

The programme bills the show as a ‘gothic romance’ and gothic is right - there are scenes and some characters quite sinister in their spookiness.

But there’s elegance and grace too, from all of the exquisite dancers, and most especially in the Edwardian summer scene of 1911. The stage is set for Princess Aurora’s coming-of-age party in the rose garden of the Royal family’s palace, a design imagined so perfectly by Lez Brotherston you can almost hear the bees buzzing , taste the tea in the fine china cups, and feel the twirl of a parasol in your hands as Aurora teases her suitors, entwines fingers with her true love Leo, and falls into the evil clutches of Caradoc the Dark Fairy’s son.

Beautiful Hannah Vassallo played our princess with a perfect combination of grace and fragility, especially when acting beside the her statuesque nemesis, played brilliantly by Adam Maskell.

Dominic North was the gamekeeper, Leo, prepared to wait 100 years to awaken his princess from her sleep.

But the real stars of the show were the unseen hands behind the adorable character who doesn’t appear on the cast list but who brings the story full circle.