Theatre Review: MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE– The Lowry, Salford

Matthew Bourne's SWAN LAKE UK Tour 2018.

Matthew Bourne’s SWAN LAKE UK Tour 2018. Photo Credit: Johan Persson

With its masterful choreography, stunning set and innovative costume design, you can’t help but fall under the spell of Matthew Bourne’s SWAN LAKE

It’s hard to believe that Matthew Bourne’s SWAN LAKE is a whopping 23 years old. As the iconic dance piece returns to the stage for a new UK tour, it still feels as bold, fresh and inventive as ever.

Best known for shattered conventions by replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble, Bourne’s SWAN LAKE tells the story of a lonely, misfit Prince (Dominic North) who finds the missing love he craves from his cold-hearted mother (Katrina Lyndon) in the charismatic form of The Swan (Will Bozier). The delightfully dark production turned ballet tradition upside down when it first premiered in 1995, winning over thirty international awards including an Olivier and three Tonys and cementing its place as an innovative and contemporary Swan Lake for our times.

Matthew Bourne's SWAN LAKE UK Tour 2018. Photo Credit: Credit: Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne’s SWAN LAKE UK Tour 2018. Photo Credit: Credit: Johan Persson

The 2018 revival of the iconic dance piece sees a few tweaks here and there, including a newly renovated set by Lez Brotherston who gives the piece the grandeur it deserves, as well some changes to the lighting design and choreography. But don’t let this put you off, the differences are in the detail and the production retains many of the iconic elements which people know and love from the original production.

As with any interpretation of SWAN LAKE (or indeed any production of Matthew Bourne’s), the highlight of this piece is the choreography which is as visually and emotively compelling as ever. The interplay between Dominic North as the Prince and Will Bozier’s Swan is masterful, their pas de duex, in particular, standing out as both tender and powerful. Beyond the electric erotic charge that underpins their encounters, there is a playful, tender side acknowledged in intense eye contact, matching body language and high-flying lifts. You literally cannot take your eyes away from them.

The menacingly majestic swans are equally memorising, bringing testosterone-fuelled strength to the muscular, brooding and intimidating choreography which strays far from the stereotypical grace and elegance of female ballerinas. Their dancing is full of personality, their uniformity heightening the viciousness of the pack, whilst still retaining the swan-like elements which make this piece unique, including sassy cygnets, rippling arms and thrusting head movements in curious investigation.

Matthew Bourne's SWAN LAKE UK Tour 2018. Photo Credit: Credit: Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne’s SWAN LAKE UK Tour 2018. Photo Credit: Credit: Johan Persson

While the storyline is dark, there are plenty of humorous touches to keep the piece light with Katrina Lyndon as the Prince’s daft and hapless girlfriend particularly standing out here, her pitch-perfect comic timing and inappropriate antics having the audience in stitches.

Add in a stunning costume design – which takes us from glitz and glamour of the ballroom to sparse and sinister environment of a hospital – as well as Tchaikovsky’s stunning score which sounds as chilling as ever, and you can’t help but fall under the spell of SWAN LAKE.

Don’t miss it.

(5 / 5)

MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE runs at The Lowry, Salford until 1 December 2018

Donna is the Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she is a digital marketing whizz, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage, The Public Reviews and ScreenRelish. Loves Shakespeare, prosecco and Formula 1