Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – A Gothic Romance

New Adventures at the Birmingham Hippodrome
February 10, 2016
Phil Preece

As you would expect from the great re-imaginer of the classics, Matthew (now Sir Matthew) Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is a long way from the Petipa work that marks the climax of the great pre-revolutionary Russian tradition.

Here he cleverly updates the action by placing Aurora’s royal birth at the end of the nineteenth century and turning her coming-out ball into an Edwardian era tennis match evocatively channelling the sunset of another golden age, where after a sexy encounter with very wrongest kind of suitor, the evil magic comes into play. Placing the final act reunion with her true love in the tracksuit and hoodies era present neatly allows for the hundred years sleep.

But it’s with the supernatural element that he has the most fun in this production full of classic Bourne touches. The show’s visual treats begin in the royal nursery where War Horse-type puppetry creates a winsome life-like baby visited by some very naughty supernaturals led by the dark fairy Carabosse and Count Lilac, King of the Fairies. They’re a decadent crowd, a set of raggle-taggle dressing-up-box punks, but spooky enough nevertheless.

Dominic North (Leo) and Ashley Shaw (Aurora) in Matthew Bourne's Sleeping BeautyPhoto Johan Persson
Dominic North (Leo) and Ashley Shaw (Aurora) in Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty
Photo Johan Persson

This all makes for a great night out, and like all Bourne successes, not to be taken too seriously, his famous sense of humour always peeping through – enjoyment is key here. It’s young, sexy, funny, and touching, while with the dark tones he indulges his love of shock and sensation, drawing an enthusiastic ovation from the first night crowd for this modern Beauty for our times. Not for the purists maybe, but another popular success.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 13 February, and touring.
For tickets phone the Box Office on 0844 338 5000 or go online at
For other tour dates visit