A New Adventures production of Cinderella by Matthew Bourne is a spectacle. Bourne can only be described as a visionary; striking the fine balance between fairy-tale and reality.
Differing in many ways from the traditional Cinderella story; Cinders has three step-brothers and two step-sisters, who introduce their partners to the family. Her father, a wheelchair bound army veteran, is married to the ‘wicked’ step-mother. Through expressive dance and idiosyncrasies, Bourne perfectly captures the nuances of each character’s relationship with Cinderella and each other.
What differs most from the original tale is Cinderella’s fairy godmother, or should I say angel? Depicted as a suave male, he dictates the story in such a way he is a god rather than an angel. Not just granting wishes and wants, but puppeteering the doom and gloom to almost appear heavenly. Liam Mower captured his character perfectly, with choreography so fluid you would presume this angel really did have wings.
Everything is so carefully curated when it comes to the staging. Archive war-time footage, air-raid sirens and gas masks; this would all be more evocative in older audience members but would still strike a chord in younger members.
Lez Brotherstone’s set design is a masterpiece, especially in the Café de Paris scene with the signature staircases and grand piano. Brotherstone particularly impresses when the set deconstructs and reconstructs itself during the bombing. The attention to detail is pleasing to watch.
An enchanting score by Prokofiev is fitting to the ballet with its grand romantic waltzes, also aligning perfectly with the hard-hitting scenes of the Blitz. The beauty of the music is highlighted by the fact Bourne didn’t cut out any of Prokofiev’s entire score; which Frederick Ashton cut from his version.
Despite this different take on the timeless tale of Cinderella, she still gets her fairy-tale ending. However, Bourne doesn’t sugar-coat the harsh reality of war continuing around her. Cinderella in this instance is a fairy-tale I could watch over and over.
Cinderella is running at the Lyceum 15th-19th May and is continuing to tour internationally until March 2019.
Photos by Johan Persson