SWAN LAKE: Music, Tchaikovsky
Director and Choreographer: Matthew Bourne
Runs: 2h 30m, one interval
Birmingham Hippodrome to 15 February, and on tour
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, Birmingham Hippodrome, 05 02 14
Nearly 20 years ago Matthew Bourne startled the world with his extraordinary vision of SWAN LAKE, with its male swans and homo-erotic theme. Now we are no longer startled and we are able to see the work more clearly. Far from diminishing its power, the clarity reveals greater power, its emotional impact is more immediate and all the more heartbreaking. This SWAN LAKE is truly a great work.
Much credit for the ballet’s impact must go the the two leads – Jonathan Ollivier (Swan) and Andrew Monaghan (Prince). They dance superbly alone and with the ensemble, even more so when together; while their duet at the moonlit lake takes your breath away, their dance at the conclusion stops your heart. Their big open fluid movements can represent, moment by moment, display, power, pain and love. (This is not a dance about sex, but about the human need to be loved.) Add to this these young men’s ability to act – for they truly live in each moment – and you have performances that are uniquely special.
MB’s company are all marvellous dancers, and Bourne has created a team all of whom can act, jettisoning empty gestures in favour of truth. The male swans exemplify what a talented group they are – street-wise cool in display, in their victory-preening chilling.
The ease with which the work moves from wit and humour to tragedy is also a mark of quality. The opening sequence in the court, with its quick and jerky movement is both funny and, in its doll-like representations, emblematic of the emotional desert it is. The dance contrasts dramatically with the flowing choreography of the swans – so the work reflects in itself over and over, creating a many-levelled art work.
Bourne’s story is a story of truly unattainable love, beautifully told, and achingly real.
Jonathan Ollivier: Swan
Andrew Monaghan: Prince
Saranne Curtin: Queen
Paul Smethurst: Private Secretary
Carrie Johnson: Girlfriend
Ensemble: Ashley Shaw, Chantelle Gotobed, Katrina Lyndon, Cordelia Braithwaite, Stephanie Billers, Freya Field, Emma Chadwick, Ivan Delgado Del Rio, Tom Cummings, Robin Gladwin, Otis-Cameron Carr, Graham Kotowich, Tom Broderick, Andy Macleman, Edd Mitton, PJ Hurst
Set and Costume Designer: Lez Brotherston
Lighting Fesigner: Rick Fisher
Associate Director: Etta Murfitt
Resident Director: Neil Westmoreland
Msical Associate: Roland Lee