Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

I didn’t really have a concept of what I was going to see and I’m not sure I can do justice to this production. I’d only seen one ballet live before, that was Sleeping Beauty at the Colosseum in London. I enjoyed that but it didn’t touch me in the same way Swan Lake did.

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake gives a score that most people would know and the music was played beautifully. The interpretation of that music by Matthew Bourne first came to the stage in 1995, it’s been performed in the UK, Los Angeles, Europe, Russia, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Israel and Singapore and has won over 30 international awards.

Where this production differs to the original interpretation is in the role of the swans being played by men rather than the traditional ballerinas. I wasn’t expecting to be laughing while watching but there really is a lot of humour, particularly in the form of the Girlfriend, played by Carrie Willis.

I’m no sure reading about the plot after the fact was a good idea, but I’m not generally a fan of doing it the other way round. I have a confession to make with that in mind, I thought the Queen character was the Prince’s wife rather than Mother. But that didn’t ruin my watching.

There was a homo-erotic feel to the interaction between the swan and the Prince, similarly when the Prince was interacting with Westwell as the Stranger. It seems Tchaikovsky would’ve approved of the male swans, he himself struggled with his Homosexuality throughout his life.

The swans were, amazing! The lead swan was played by Max Westwell, when he was joined by the rest of the swans there were 15 on the stage. The power was palpable, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from them. I went to a rugby league game in the evening and a few of the swans wouldn’t have looked amiss in that arena.

If you haven’t seen this I’d keep an eye out for tickets, it really is a must see; I’ve just booked to see the live screening in the Cinema on May 1st, a great way to watch genres you may be unfamiliar with.


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