Sleeping Beauty was one of my favourite Disney films as a child, so I was excited to see the talented Matthew Bourne’s take on the classic fairytale.
However, the only thing similar to the 1959 film is Tchaikovsky’s score, which perfectly complemented the choreography.
Those expecting a sweet and sugary fairytale were in for a shock, because Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is far from it.
As the show’s sub-title highlights, it is a ‘A Gothic Romance.’
This is made clear right from the outset when the show opens with a creepy silhouette of the evil fairy Carabosse holding Princess Aurora.
As someone who is very familiar with the Disney film, it was exciting not knowing what was going to happen in this dark version.
However, the show was not all dark and it had plenty of comic moment, usually centring around Princess Aurora.
When we are first introduced to Princess Aurora, it is not in the form of the beautifully talented Cordelia Braithwaite, but a puppet.
The puppet Princess Aurora provides the audience with plenty of laughs as the palace staff try to keep the curtain climbing baby under control.
The show then takes a slightly darker turn when night falls and the King Fairy and his followers visit the baby in her crib.
We are then treated to a delightful piece of choreography from the fairies, which was one of my highlights from the show.
The ballet then turns even darker when the evil Carabosse and her minions go and visit our heroine and curse her.
The creepiest moment in the show for me comes now when the dancers foreshadow the curse and the adult versions of Princess Aurora and Leo the Royal Gamekeeper, played by Cordelia Braithwaite and Dominic North, have their faces covered.
It really is the thing of nightmares.
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Act II opens in 1911, 21 years on from Act I.
This act loses a lot of its darkness as Princess Aurora’s parents throw her a party to celebrate her coming of age.
The feisty Princess Aurora is chased by a host of suitors, who she wraps around her little finger, but she only has eyes for one man, the gardener.
Carbosse’s son, Caradoc attends the party and we are treated to a great cat and mouse dance between him and Princess Aurora as he tries to trick her to prick her finger on the black rose.
Inevitably, of course, this happens and the show takes its darkest turn yet as the Princess drifts into a sleep for 100 years and is locked in the castle grounds.
Her lover is trapped outside the castle, heartbroken that he will never see his Princess again, but the King Fairy makes sure this is not the case by making him immortal, in a very dark way you will not see in a Disney film.
Following a short interval, Act III opens 100 years later in 2011 and we see dancers donning hoodies, jeans, tracksuits and mobile phones - something I was not expecting to see in a Sleeping Beauty ballet, but something that was very effective.
As we journey back into the castle gates it is very effective to see a land frozen in time, apart from a few subtle touches such as taped up broken windows and signs reading ‘private property.’
The set has transformed from the beautiful palace to a magical forest with the dancers weaving in and out of the trees.
We are treated to spectacular choreography as our hero battles name and tries to rescue his princess.
Act IV is set in the present in what looks to be a modern nightclub. Again small touches have been made with the dancers performing in a more contemporary style.
The show reaches its breathtaking climax and our heroes, of course, live happily ever after - but with a dark twist.
The thing I loved about this show was it was open to interpretation. I interpreted Acts III and IV differently to my friend. I believed the majority of those two Acts was a nightmare had by Princess Aurora, while my friend believed it actually happened.
Some things not open to interpretation was how stunning the set and costumes were. It would not look out of place in the West End and I felt very lucky to be able to see this masterpiece as the Wycombe Swan.
As you can imagine from a Matthew Bourne piece, the choreography and standard of dancing was breathtaking.
A special mention should be given to Cordelia Braithwaite, who takes on her first principal role as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. She moved beautifully and really portrayed the Princess’ free spirit through dance. She also did a great job of dancing while pretending to be asleep, which could not have been an easy task.
Adam Maskell, who plays Carabosse and Caradoc was also sensational, as was Princess Aurora’s love interest Leo played by Dominic North.
King of the Fairies Count Lilac, played by Christoper Marney, and his five fairies were also outstanding, as was every single cast member in the show.
The only other ballet I have seen is Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, which was amazing, and he has once again outdone himself with Sleeping Beauty.
Matthew Bourne converted me to a ballet fan with Swan Lake and I am positive he has created thousands more fans with Sleeping Beauty.
There is something very calming and cathartic about watching a show with no words, just stunning choreography and a beautiful score.
I was completely mesmerised from start to finish and I can ensure you, you will feel far from sleepy when you watch this beautiful ballet.
Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is at the Wycombe Swan until Saturday (May 28).
Tickets cost £25 to £41.50.
To book call 01494 512 000 or visit www.wycombeswan.co.uk.