A fresh look for the modern classic that is Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

Birmingham Hippodrome
February 5, 2019

Phil Preece

It’s nearly a quarter of a century since we first felt the seismic shock of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, his spectacular reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s balletic crowning achievement. Its secret of course is that here the hero fails to get the girl but instead gets something he didn’t know he wanted – and it isn’t a swan.

This new incarnation of what is still Bourne’s best-known work maybe somewhat slimmed down from the original but it remains elegantly streamlined; leaner and fitter, but still rich with high-octane, pressured performances all round.

The one place where the paring is to the work’s detriment is the lavish ballroom scene, although perhaps on a smaller stage here than it was originally designed for. The show’s essential luxury suffers slightly because of this, but its drama is also all the more personal as a result. Here, wayward aristos are kept under the modern media eye of scrutiny, making the prince’s unusual choices more acute.

The cast were all outstanding with special mentions to Dominic North as the Prince desperately seeking love, Will Bozier as The Swan/The Stranger, and Katrina Lyndon who put in a wonderful comic turn as his very unsuitable girlfriend.

The costumes are, as we would expect, pure couture. The show is almost worth seeing for them alone. Their sumptuous quality effortlessly summons up the slightly sinister elegance of the society on display. This night was a triumph pleasing new followers and old, marking a very welcome revival of what has become a modern classic.

Amazingly despite its now historic pedigree and so long after its first incarnation Bourne’s Swan Lake remains fresh, modern, and still deeply poignant. It has been edited, but exhilaratingly and elegantly so; but, hey, sometimes less is more. The couple sitting next to me claimed never to have been to the theatre before. They’ll be back.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake continues at the Birmingham Hippodrome to February 16, 2019. Visit birminghamhippodrome.com for details and tickets.
Visit https://new-adventures.net/swan-lake for subsequent tour dates and venues.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake will also be shown in cinemas on May 21, 2019. Visit swanlakecinema.com for details.