Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake: A dazzling stage spectacle enhanced by the medium of cinema
A remarkably beautiful and intriguing contemporary version of Tchaikovsky’s most famous and beloved ballet, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is now on film, affording an exquisite view of this dramatic production.
Bourne has transformed this story into a brilliant 21st century perspective on love. In place of a romantic triangle with a prince, his Odette and her sinister alter ego, the narrative is more complex. The Prince (Liam Mower) has an oedipal relationship with an inconsistent, emotionally distant mother, the Queen (Nicole Kabera). Yearning for her affection, he feels rejected and lonely – one scene suggests a pseudo-incestuous struggle, possibly the protagonist’s imagination. She pushes him away, toward “appropriate” potential wives. Her son is beguiled by a comically wacky girl, who humorously irritates his mother.
The introduction of magnificent all male swans – dancing under a full moon with powerful grace and beauty – precipitates an awakening for the Prince. The principal Swan (Will Bozier) – also a bold, alluring stranger who seduces every woman at the “Swank Club”, including the Queen – becomes the object of the young royal’s budding ardour and desire. The stranger/swan, who has clearly been unaware of own his sexuality – reluctantly at first – succumbs. Hostility and homophobia follow, as his entourage violently opposes their union, and attempts to keep them apart lead to a heartbreaking, tragic end, when the couple are aggressively attacked and killed by the other swans.
A juxtaposition of superb, spectacular stage setting, lush, stunning costuming (Lez Brotherston), first-rate evocative lighting design (Paule Constable) and excellent orchestral accompaniment (Rowland Lee), combined with Bourne’s outstanding choreography and supremely talented dancers, results in a seamlessly exceptional work. Cutting-edge plotline and movement make Swan Lake truly unique. Rather than consisting of the purely classical, the piece combines the latter with theatrical (jazz, cabaret) sequences and modern ballet. The performers are a treat to watch, as they are breathtaking dancers but also charismatic actors. Viewing the work as a movie provides close-up, better-than-front-row viewing of every detail and emotion, allowing the full impact of the experience. Skilled camera work enhances the dramatic beauty of the production.
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is not just a thrilling incarnation of a classic, it is a standalone masterpiece in itself. A deeply poignant, emotional and visually dazzling stage spectacle, here incredible ballet and entertaining theatre are enhanced by the medium of cinema.
Photo: Johan Persson
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is screening in nationwide cinemas on 21st May 2019. For further information about venues and tickets visit here.
Watch the trailer for Swan Lake here: