Matthew Bourne has done it again. Innovative and evocative – his choreography is the star of the show. Can this man ever do any wrong?
Bourne has tinkered with the story, giving it a refreshing lift, but is careful to keep it recognisable as the tale we know and love. The Angel stands in place of the Fairy Godmother, who instead of giving Cinderella a footman and carriage, guides her into the arms of her handsome prince. Or in this case, an injured RAF pilot. I’m uncertain whether it all ends happily ever in reality, after both Cinderella and her pilot end up in hospital after an attack. But whichever way you interpret the story, Bourne’s genius shines through.
The use of context from 1940s London during the war grounds the story and allows the movement to be much clearer. Teamed with Bourne’s unique style containing a perfect balance of modern and traditional ballet, you have a recipe for success. He challenges his dancers with complex routines and interpretive storytelling as well as a tricky prop or two, such as hospital screens and tailor’s mannequins.
Bourne also shows his mischievous side with his famous boundary pushing. From a gay couple at the ball to a subtle sexual acts performed in the corner of the underground, he is not afraid of being progressive within traditional storytelling techniques. Other little touches, like an ongoing joke that she thinks she looks ugly with her glasses on, yet her lover cannot recognise her without, are what Matthew Bourne is so good for.
Prokofiev’s score provides an emotional backing track to the performance. His iconic sound is unrivalled and the light and dark within the pieces are matched by Matthew Bourne’s shading within his own work. How many times have I said Matthew Bourne already? Onto the other stars of the show.
Liam Mower, as the Angel, is a personal favourite for me. I feel like I have followed his whole career, from Billy Elliot to New Adventures. I have seen almost all his work within the Matthew Bourne company and he never fails to catch my eye. Gorgeous lines and such power and control as he puppeteers Cinderella into having her happily ever after. Ashley Shaw as Cinderella was the belle of the ball. A beautiful and petite dancer with princess-like qualities even when she was dressed in rags. Her handsome prince came in the form of Dominic North as Harry, the pilot, whose facial expressions alone were fantastic, not to mention his gorgeous solos when he really came into his own in the third act. The pair’s raw love was exposed as they danced with each other in their 1940’s underwear on the bare stripped-back stage. Finally I must mention the evil stepmother, Michela Meazza. Her presence was incredible, and she commanded the stage as her murderous tendencies revealed themselves.
This revival of Matthew Bourne’s classic from late 1990s has improved a ballet that I didn’t think could have been bettered. Proof that Matthew Bourne is the ballet legend of our time. Bourne, I salute you.