27 September 2010

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Wimbledon Theatre


When I saw Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Sadler's Wells at the end of last year I ended my review by saying that I was looking forward to seeing it again. Now I have.

Then I thought that it would be at Sadler's Wells again but Swan Lake is spreading its wings and is touring to places like New York, Milan and Wimbledon. The later is easily reachable by bus, a 65 or 371 and a 57 take me door-to-door. so that's where I went. Milan looks tempting though...

It was a late decision to go (only because I found out about it late) so the best seat left was some way back but it was dead centre so that was OK. The theatre itself was deeply unimpressive being almost a carbon copy of Richmond which I hate equally because of the way that they have preserved the uncomfortable seats, poor sight-lines and dead acoustics. Give me a modern theatre like Sadler's Wells, Glyndebourne or the Linbury every time.

But it's the show that matters and Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is one hell of a show.

The music helps, of course, and the familiar opening bars grab your full attention and immediately the theatre is (almost) forgotten and you are swept in to the story. The music plays an important role throughout and despite all that is going on the stage all the time the music seems to stand out more in this production than in the more traditional ones.

The richness of action on the stage is a Matthew Bourne trademark and one of the reasons why it is so rewarding to watch the the show again. An example that comes to mind is the scene in the night club (Swank!) where the patrons dance in pairs and it is frustratingly difficult to decide who to watch.

The choreography is sumptuous, vibrant and dramatic. The shapes the bodies make individually and collectively are exaggerated without being forced. You can get a good idea of this from the Swan Lake Tour photos on Flickr.

It's hard to heap any more superlatives on the performance than I have already done so I'll just say that the previous time I saw this I wanted to see it again soon and this time I was seriously tempted to try and get tickets for the evening show. It really is that good. It's one of the very very best shows of any kind that I have ever seen. I will be seeing again just as soon as I can and I recommend that you do too.

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