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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke

REVIEW: MATTHEW BOURNE’S SLEEPING BEAUTY @ THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

🎭 Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

📍 The Lyric, Theare Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Tuesday 15th November 2022

️THE MOST WONDERFULLY SUBLIME PERFORMANCE YOU'LL SEE THIS YEAR


Theatre Royal Plymouth is privileged to be the venue in which Sir Matthew Bourne has launched his latest tour of the gothic Sleeping Beauty. Performed by Bourne's award winning New Adventures company, this production is nothing short of perfection.


Sublime choreography, which is danced with stunning precision, is married to Tchaikovsky's stunning score and is a pure wonder to behold.


The story opens in 1890, which is the year that Tchaikovsky completed the score, where King Benedict (Danny Reubens) and Queen Eleanor (Stephanie Billers) are longing for the one thing they can't have, a baby. The dark fairy Carrabosse (Paris Fitzpatrick) gives them a baby daughter, Princess Aurora.


Carrabosse becomes angry when she doesn't receive the recognition she feels she deserves, and bestows a curse onto the child.


We see baby Aurora sleep at night as she is protected by not only the loyal staff of the King and Queen, but by King of the Fairies Count Lilac (Dominic North) and his group of fellow fairies. North shone as he led this section with his beautiful movements and wonderful storytelling.


The other star of the early part of the show were the puppets used to portray the young Princess. This is an ingenious idea which is faultlessly executed and adds to the wonder of what you are witnessing.


We then fast-forward to 1911 and we see Princess Aurora (Ashley Shaw) preparing for her Coming of Age party. Carabosse is now dead. However, her son Caradoc (Patrick Fitzpatrick) is keen to see that his mothers curse is carried out.

Showing no interest in her suitors, Aurora is besotted with handsome gamekeeper Leo (Andrew Monaghan). The interactions between Shaw and Monaghan are captivating to watch and you can feel the love that each has for the other.


The evil Caradoc attends the party and sets a trap for Aurora, who pricks her finger on a black rose and falls into a deep slumber.


Act 1 closes with Leo being bitten by Count Lilac, turning him into a fairy vampire, meaning he can wait 100 years to wake his beloved.


We then have an interval of 100 years!


Act 2 opens in the modern world, and shows Leo's attempts to awaken Aurora. Leo is used by Caradoc who intends to marry Aurora himself.


Fitzpatrick's characterisation is is wonderfully eerie throughout and he gives a believable performance.


At their wedding, and aided by Count Lilac, Leo is able to rescue Aurora and Caradoc is destroyed. In true fairytale style, Leo and Aurora then live happily-ever-after and in a full circle moment, they walk their own puppet baby onto the stage!


This company has no weak links whatsoever. From the principal dancers to the ensemble, the level of talent is breathtaking. Every moment of emotion washes over the audience who are transported effortlessly into the world which has been created.

The sets designed by Lez Brotherston are as much the star of the production as the dancers and are some of the best I have ever seen. The attention to detail really brings the world alive. The same can be said of his costume designs.


The production is brought together with lighting design by Paule Constable, which is pitched exactly right throughout.


This version of Sleeping Beauty should go straight to the top of everyone's must-see list. It is a true spectacle that doesn't disappoint and I will definitely be returning to see it in the future.


The production continues at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday. Head to www.theatreroyal.com to check availability and to book tickets. Next stop is The Lowry in Salford, before it heads to London's famous Sadler's Wells until January when it resumes its tour until April 2023. All tour dates can be found at www.new-adventures.net/sleepingbeauty#overview.


Neill Kovacic-Clarke


All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.


My tickets for this production were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth as I was invited to the press night to review the performance.


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