Reviewed by Jan Mellor
Oh, I was so excited! I had seen Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella earlier this year and I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen on stage. I grinned with sheer trepidation as I entered the theatre and saw the large image of a swan on stage curtain. As the music started and the lights dimmed the swan ‘came alive’ and was ‘flown’ across the stage. The curtain rose to show us a young prince in an enormous bed having nightmares and having visions of a stranger behind him. His mother enters not to sooth him but to chastise him and together they prepare for royal business. The regalia of the royal household begins, and the prince meets a gorgeous girl (below his station unfortunately) and they all go to the theatre. Here we see how uncouth his girlfriend is as the royal family watch a superb show of butterflies, tree creatures and a lumberjack. The queen leaves the theatre humiliated. This was sheer fantasy before us, but the best was yet to come….
The following scene has the prince chasing his girl to the Swank bar, but he ends up getting into a brawl and is thrown out. The dancing, costumes and sheer energy of the bar scene was superb. He sits on the pavement outside of the bar and magic happens as a swan again comes to life before us… jaw dropping! The prince bereft of affection from his mother and unenamoured with his hope of finding true love goes to the park, writes a suicide note and plans to end it all, however he then meets the Swan King and the other dozen swans, and his world is turned upside down. To see such amazing sensual ‘creatures’ dance, what is traditionally performed by ballerinas, – was absolutely astounding. The talent on that stage was nothing short of miraculous. I sat with my mouth agape throughout the whole scene. I cannot describe how powerful the dance scenes were – you must see them for yourself. Following the visit from the male swans – the prince has an epiphany (realising that he is gay).
The second act began with the royal family at a party and the cast were dressed in amazing costumes and refinery. A stranger breaks up the party and seduces all the females as they all fall instantly for his enigma, passion and presence – this includes the prince who is besotted with this erotic man. The man seduces the queen and the prince becomes overwhelmed with jealousy and tries to shoot them. He misses and ends up killing a guest and consequently is sent to jail. He is pardoned from jail and returns home to his unfeeling mother and his enormous bed. As he lay in bed, the Swan King comes to him and as they try to embrace the other swans attack the Swan King and kill him and then as the queen tries to revive the prince he too has died. At this stage I was a blubbering mess – so is the emotion and the passion that Matthew Bourne brings to the stage. As the curtain falls an image of the prince and the Swan King embracing was a wonderful finale. I can only say that this now has become the best thing I have ever seen on stage – Matthew Bourne has exceeded himself yet again!
The stars of this show – each and every one of the cast are truly remarkable, their skill, timing, talent, stage presence and magnetism are unsurpassed. The principles played by Dominic North (the prince) and Will Bozier (the Swan King) were absolutely incredible. As I write this – I just want to go and see it all again. It was an absolute dream of a performance and I really don’t want to wake up. Go and see this performance – it will knock you out.
Truly a work of art, an unbelievable performance! The most magnificent performance on stage you will ever see!
Tickets cost from £28.50 (booking fees may apply).
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is at The Lowry in Manchester from 20 November to 1 December 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000