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 Post subject: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:19 pm 
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In the Telegraph, Sarah Crompton previews Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty," December 4, 2012 through January 26, 2013 at Sadler's Wells.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:40 pm 
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Jenny Gilbert reviews "The Sleeping Beauty" for the Independent.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:26 pm 
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Mark Monahan reviews "The Sleeping Beauty" for the Telegraph.

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Lyndsey Winship reviews the same production for the Evening Standard.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:32 pm 
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Clement Crisp reviews "The Sleeping Beauty" for the Financial Times.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:49 pm 
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Judith Mackrell reviews "The Sleeping Beauty" for the Guardian.

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Ismene Brown reviews "The Sleeping Beauty" for the Arts Desk.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:55 pm 
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Zoe Anderson reviews "The Sleeping Beauty" for the Independent.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:22 pm 
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Luke Jennings reviews "The Sleeping Beauty" for the Observer.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:54 pm 
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‘Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty’
New Adventures
Sadler’s Wells, London; December 12, 2012

David Mead

Attachment:
Hannah Vassallo as Aurora. Photo Simon Annand.jpg
Hannah Vassallo as Aurora. Photo Simon Annand.jpg [ 55.4 KiB | Viewed 4220 times ]

Many choreographers have reinterpreted Petipa’s “The Sleeping Beauty” over the years, and as the title suggests, this is very much Matthew Bourne’s version rather than the original. Although he has tweaked both the story and the music, significantly in places, it has to be said that this is one of the more coherent reworkings. As a piece of narrative it is far more interesting than the original ballet, which for all its wonderful dance is not exactly packed with drama, and visually it is an absolute delight. From a purely dance perspective, however, it struggles to hit the target.

Bourne’s interpretation opens in 1890, the year of the Petipa ballet’s premiere in St. Petersburg. The King and Queen have failed to produce a child, so a baby is left for them by Carabosse. In a neat twist, she is portrayed as not being initially evil or nasty, but as someone who only turned on the family when they didn’t show gratitude for her gift of a child. In a stroke of genius, Bourne has the baby Aurora come alive thanks to some marvellous rod puppetry. It crawls around the floor getting under everyone’s feet and even climbs the huge drapes. I couldn’t help feeling it also had a touch of the sinister about it; something to do with what seemed to be a slightly oversized head and eyes, maybe. The way it grinned at the fairies was quite disconcerting. Whether that was deliberate is unclear, although it made sense given her true lineage.

By the time of her 21st birthday party in 1911, Carabosse is dead. Her hurt is, though, continued by Caradoc, played by the same dancer and to who Aurora is strangely attracted, despite being chased after by altogether more attractive, if rather fresh faced, Leo, the Royal Gamekeeper. As usual, Aurora pricks her finger on the traditional rose thorn and falls asleep. Things get a tad more confused when she wakes up. Her suitor from 100 years previous has survived time by becoming a vampire, which provides an excuse for Act IV taking place in a goth-oriented night club. In a final and rather topical twist, Bourne provides the happy couple with another baby at the end.

Throughout, Bourne reinforces his reputation as an excellent storyteller. There is some help from two or three sentences projected on to the curtain, but for the most part things are perfectly clear. That’s just as well, as the programme contains not one word of synopsis.

The star turns in the production are Lez Brotherston’s magnificent designs. If he does not win an award for them something is seriously amiss. The royal residence of Act I is full of references to the mock Gothic architecture that was so popular in the late 19th-century. Sweeping forward, the Edwardian garden party setting for Act II is pure Downton Abbey. The closing in of nature on the sleeping Aurora is one of the best I’ve seen. Given all that, I’ll forgive the overly dark, black and red, goth-influenced night club of Act IV.

The dancers are pleasing. Hannah Vassallo as Aurora had a hint of Isadora Duncan about her, dancing with a delightful freedom. The rather eerie Count Lilac (The Lilac Fairy) was danced with authority by Liam Mower. He and the other fairies all had more than a hint of Tim Burton’s gothic creations. Adam Maskell was convincing as Caradoc, while Dominic North was a very innocent Leo.
Attachment:
The Fairies. Photo Simon Annand.jpg
The Fairies. Photo Simon Annand.jpg [ 61.56 KiB | Viewed 4220 times ]

The dance itself is easy on the eye. It is effective in telling the story, but is largely unexciting. Tchaikovsky’s score is packed with magical, often soaring moments, but Bourne fails to match it time and again. There are plenty of references to the Petipa, especially in the various fairy solos, but while nice to see, they served only to highlight the lack of impact of the rest of it. Some of the balletic steps also struggled to gel with Bourne’s more contemporary vocabulary. Duets that should hit the emotional highs found when two people are falling for each other or are really in love turn out to be little more than playful, easy going encounters between doe-eyed youngsters. Not once did I feel a frission of excitement or a tingle down the spine.

Sadly, the music is recorded; a fact of economic necessity, one assumes. A few parts of the score have been moved around and there was one section I didn’t recognise, although it fitted well. But given that it was specially recorded, it is unfortunate that some of the editing is far from seamless. One join towards the end was especially jolting.

All told, Bourne’s “Sleeping Beauty” is certainly an interesting take on the story and will please most. The Sadler’s Wells audience certainly seemed happy enough. Just don’t expect fireworks.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty continues at Sadler’s Wells to January 26, then tours. See http://www.new-adventures.net for details.


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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:01 pm 
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Jem Bloomfield reviews "The Sleeping Beauty" for the California Literary Review.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:36 am 
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In the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Zachary Lewis reviews the Wednesday, October 2, 2013 performance in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:20 pm 
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Roslyn Sulcas previews Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty" which begins a ten-day run at New York's City Center on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 for the New York Times.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:00 pm 
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In the Newark Star-Ledger, Robert Johnson previews Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty," October 23 through November 3, 2013 at New York's City Center.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:06 am 
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Brian Seibert reviews the production at New York's City Center for the New York Times.

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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:12 pm 
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Yesterday afternoon, in between seeing two performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella for San Francisco Ballet, I saw Matthew Bourne’s “The Sleeping Beauty.” It was culture shock, and I intensely disliked it at the beginning. But after the first scene, I connected with it, and to my surprise, loved it. A lot of it is dumb, or looks it to me – but it’s one of those rare pieces that takes chances. Some of them work; some don’t, but this kind of creative audacity should be celebrated. Besides – it’s therapeutic. I can’t remember when I screamed in disgust, laughed out loud, and shed a tear at any one dance performance before.

While a more complete review may follow, for those interested, it’s at City Center through November 3. And bring a kid (preferably beyond toddler) – based on the comments by some of the younger attendees at a discussion with Mr. Bourne following Saturday’s matinee performance, they’re more open-minded than adults might think. Maybe go on Halloween night. And bring some True Blood.


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 Post subject: Re: Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:34 pm 
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Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company
City Center
New York, New York

October 26M
“The Sleeping Beauty”

-- by Jerry Hochman

Once upon a time, there was fairy tale called “La Belle au bois dormant "(“The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood"), written by Charles Perrault in 1697. The story tells of a king and queen who celebrate the arrival of a long-awaited child with a christening party to which all the fairies in the kingdom are invited, except one – an evil fairy. This fairy, unnamed in the Perrault version but subsequently identified as ‘Carabosse’ (‘Maleficent’ in the Disney animated film), does not take this slight lightly. She puts a curse on the baby princess, who also is unnamed in the Perrault version, but is commonly known as ‘Aurora’. The curse provides that Aurora would grow up to be beautiful, but at age 15, give or take, would prick her finger on a spindle and die. This does not sit well with the one of the good fairies invited to the party, called the Lilac Fairy in ballet versions, who modifies the curse such that Aurora would prick her finger on a spindle and go into a coma for a hundred years, then awaken to a kiss from a strange and clueless prince, with whom she would immediately fall in love. After the amended curse plays out, Aurora promptly marries the prince in a ceremony attended by her mother and father and friends, who look no older than they did a century earlier, and lives happily ever after.

This basic story has survived relatively intact in various incarnations for over 300 years. Then along comes Matthew Bourne, and blasts it to smithereens.

Saturday afternoon, in between performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella for San Francisco Ballet, I saw Matthew Bourne’s “The Sleeping Beauty.” Maybe because I had overdosed on fairy tales, it was dance/culture shock, and I intensely disliked it at the beginning. But after the first act, I connected with it, and to my surprise, ultimately loved it (the way one loves a somewhat strange and pixilated relative). It doesn’t always work, but I can recall no recent production that has engendered in me such a wide-ranging response. I groaned out loud, screamed out loud, laughed out loud, and silently shed a mini-tear, all at the same dance.

Mr. Bourne’s version is different from the norm the way a bloody mary is different from tomato juice. It comes from the same stock as the Perrault story and the Petipa ballet, but it’s spiked with additional ingredients that change it from a stylized fantasy for children of all ages to a peppery elixir that can at times give the viewer an unbearable headache, but at other times be marvelously intoxicating. I can think of nothing to match its sheer audacity, except maybe an almost-all-male version of “Swan Lake.”

Mr. Bourne saw a few little problems with the original story. Like why would Carabosse so completely lose it over a bungled invitation? And why would Aurora just automatically fall for some guy who awakens her from a sound sleep? And how would all those people live more than a hundred years? And what to do with the darker second part of the Perrault story that no one but fairy tale scholars and curious choreographers knows about. So he envisioned solutions to the standard libretto to overcome these narrative flaws.

First, the King and Queen are a barren couple who make a deal with Carabosse to provide them with a child. Carabosse fulfills her end of the bargain and gives them Aurora. [Based on images in a brief prologue, Aurora may be Carabosse’s own child, which would make things even kinkier than they already are.] So the failure to invite Carabosse to the party is no mere slight – it’s a dagger to Carabosse’s heart, and she goes ballistic. Offstage, Carabosse subsequently dies (either of heartbreak because she was unappreciated and lost respect, or of pique because her curse was overruled). Then, we see that baby Aurora – befitting her birth mother, whomever she is – is somewhat of a wild child, exhibiting the terrible twos while still an infant; and, as a frisky older girl, entertaining the besotted court gamekeeper (really the gardener, but why quibble) who climbs into Aurora’s room through an open window for some post-pubescent dalliance. The young stud is named Leo. Later, Aurora pricks her finger on a decrepit looking rose provided by Carabosse’s son, named Caradoc, who is out to avenge his mother. Aurora collapses, and is carried off to parts unknown by Caradoc. Leo is then preserved forever by a Lilac Fairy with an overbite (who is called Count Lilac, as in another infamous character with pasty skin, a black cape, and elongated canine teeth). A hundred years later, Leo, who hasn’t aged a bit, is a happy camper tenting at the entrance to the castle, which in the intervening years has become a tourist trap. Count Lilac, who has hung around for a century, then opens the gates to the now forested castle, reintroduces Leo to Aurora, and.…well, you know the rest.

Except you don’t. It seems that Carabosse’s son made off with Aurora to keep her for himself, but can’t awaken her because his aren’t the right lips. So he encourages Leo, who has made his way to her hidden bedroom, to kiss her. Caradoc then abducts the now awakened but stupefied Aurora. In the ensuing power struggle, Count Lilac prevails over Caradoc. Leo and Aurora are wed, consummate their marriage, and faster than hyperactive rabbits, create progeny – a daughter who looks a lot like her mother did as an infant puppet.

And I’ve left out the good parts.

Mr. Bourne complicates things by changing the time periods of the story so that it begins in 1890, when Petipa created his ballet version; continues with Aurora’s adolescence in 1911 Edwardian England, and culminates in two scenes in contemporary times: a hundred years after the thorn bite, and then ‘now’ – a few years later. This wasn’t really necessary, but it allows for some unexpected visual images (like the family living in a castle with a private tennis court and several racket-waving suitors for Aurora), and the dance’s climax in a blood-red tinted nightclub that could have been called ‘Fangtasia’ (after the bar/club haunt in HBO’s “True Blood”).

Some of Mr. Bourne’s ideas don’t work. The fairies (the good ones) look like mutant offspring of fleas and raccoons. Baby Aurora – in this version a peripatetic infant puppet – resembles evil babies in horror movies. Count Lilac, feathered (like the other good fairies) and dressed in a blue outfit, looks like he was supposed to have been Bluebird but didn’t make the cut. And the ‘fairy variations’ in Act I, to me, are choreographically awful.

But many of his ideas do work, or at least can be appreciated for their audacity. Somehow, Caradoc’s abduction, and then re-abduction, of Aurora is a believable nightmare that touches a nerve, and that makes Aurora’s rescue more emotionally fulfilling. Aside from the feathered fairies, the costumes and sets (by Mr. Bourne’s frequent collaborator Lez Brotherston) look quite good, and the dancing, other than for the good fairies, is a stylistic mishmash that also somehow works. As outrageous as it may be, there’s always something that surprises, and the viewer’s attention never fades. And most of all, the piece has more dramatic tension and passion than any ‘normal’ version of the story could have. There is a palpable battle here between good and evil (Count Lilac and Caradoc) that is not portrayed in simple black-and-white terms, and which consequently makes the piece more textured and exciting to watch, and the dance displays real passion in the relationship between Aurora and Leo (including a newborn Rose Adagio).

Of the highly competent cast, Adam Maskell was wonderful as both Carabosse and Caradoc. He was a coiled snake, an evil Elvis, and an attractive hazard (did I mention that Aurora is mesmerized by him, and physically drawn to him, without knowing that he may be her bad-boy brother?). As Leo the princely commoner, Chris Trenfield, who had the laboring partnering oar, did a fine job as the teenage object of Aurora’s affection and the befuddled victim of forces beyond his control. Christopher Marney, nasty in a heroic sort of way, danced and acted with consistent power despite his strange costume (and was also the production’s Associate Choreographer). But the central figure in the piece, Aurora, was outstandingly portrayed by Hannah Vassallo, a tiny sprite who was the epitome of a free spirit and who filled the stage with light and movement when she wasn’t comatose.

I doubt that Mr. Bourne’s sometimes bizarre and sometimes brilliant vision of “Sleeping Beauty” will replace the mainstream white bread version. But it’s one of those rare pieces that takes chances, and such creative audacity should be celebrated. It’s at City Center through November 3, and should be seen by anyone with a reasonably agile mind. And bring the kids – based on the comments by some of the younger attendees at a discussion with Mr. Bourne following Saturday’s matinee performance, they’re more receptive to new ideas than adults might think, and can appreciate a horror movie/love story perhaps more than adults. Maybe go on Halloween night. And, in addition to an open mind, bring some True Blood. And you’ll leave happily ever after.


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