Sleeping Beauty at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Trying to make ballet appealing to younger audiences is no easy endeavour, so the recent revival of vampire-themed stories is probably one of the reasons why director Matthew Bourne decided to give a gothic feel to his version of Sleeping Beauty. It is a little surprising, though, that the play only incorporates few references to the genre: Aurora’s love interest is bitten by the King of the Fairies and given an immortal life. He will be able to meet his beloved in a hundred years’ time and personally put an end to the spell Sleeping Beauty is under. This embellishment to the classic fairytale’s plot was rather inventive, yet the production otherwise remained faithful to the original.
There is a risk with fairytales that the plot is so well known, it is difficult to truly impress and excite spectators. Overall, Sleeping Beauty managed to capture the audience’s imagination and they showed their appreciation by applauding at the end of every scene and break in music. The musical score by Tchaikovsky was an obvious highlight, accompanied by very talented ballerinas, in particular the protagonist (Hannah Vassallo), who deserved the spotlight as she delivered an emotional performance, both through her expressions and her feather-like movements around the stage, conveying the frailty of the human heart.
The scenery and costumes were dazzling and perfectly set the mood of the fairytale; the speed in which they were changed was outstanding.
However, the show’s potentially interesting, intriguing plot twist soon became overshadowed: too few amusing sketches were used to divert the public from the obvious yet rather dull intermezzos, many of which were unjustifiably long.
All in all, from a visual point of view, no-one can object to Bourne’s choreographed Sleeping Beauty, yet it is clear that more work should have been done to add weight to the story. Nonetheless for spectators at Sadler’s Wells, the show was more than satisfactory, as proven by the thunderous applause it received on its conclusion.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Sleeping Beauty is on at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre until 26th January 2013. For further information or to book tickets visit the theatre’s website here.