First night: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake
A brilliant updated production of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at the Wycombe Swan that you absolutely need to see. Read my review, and go.
Last night at the Wycombe Swan was the second time I’ve seen Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and it was every bit as special – perhaps more so, as the choreography has been updated and there was the hugely charismatic, sexy and menacing Swan/The Stranger in Max Westwell (read my interview with him here).
I’ve seen a lot of ballets over the last few years and my reviews are largely those of someone not in the know! In the sense that I respond to them as artworks and from an emotional level, but can’t pretend to be an expert in technique. That’s why I always bring my mum, who had a scholarship to the English Ballet, and absolutely knows what she’s talking about. So if you’re looking for confirmation that the company is well-drilled, you’ve got it!
No surprise though as Matthew Bourne is still majorly involved in the rehearsal process and cares about Swan Lake’s legacy. A Sir nowadays, Bourne’s iconic modern ballet, using an all male corps de ballet, was labelled on its premiere as the ‘gay Swan Lake’ and saw walkouts from several high profile reviewers. Its impact at the time on a nation used to quivering, tutued female ‘swans’ can’t be underestimated, but watching this new touring production last night, there’s still an incredible energy and emotive punch that comes from this all male swan ensemble.
Without blathering on too long, the wonderful thing about Matthew Bourne’s production is that it is clever enough for purists but accessible for all. Having watched interminable classical ballets – some brilliant, some boring – I can honestly say Bourne’s ballet, with its gay not-so-subtext and sense of beautiful menace, was exhilarating. New Adventures, Bourne’s company, describes itself as a ‘dance-theatre company, famous for telling stories with a unique theatrical twist’ and that’s absolutely right – I loved the hissing from the swans, the shouted ‘hey!’ from the dancers, the rhythmic clapping during the super-sexy scene with the Stranger in those delightfully tight leather trousers (hey, everyone in that theatre thought the same!).
What I’m saying is, go see this. Even if you’re not into ballet, go. You’ll be blown away by it.