Director and Choreographer: Matthew Bourne
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Reviewer: Tate James
Matthew Bourne brings his own brand of magic to the Lowry with his latest tour of Cinderella. Though maybe not as definitive as the ever popular Nutcracker or the iconic Swan Lake, this may just be the most enchanting production in his New Adventures repertoire. Originally conceived in 1997 and revived once before in 2010, this tale of love against the odds feels fresher than ever.
The essence of the Grimm-Perrault hybrid fairytale still remains true: a beautiful girl living with her ugly-souled Step Family dreams of a better life until her Fairy Godmother grants her wishes, she meets the perfect man and is reunited with the aid of a discarded shoe. In Bourne’s hands though, the provincial fairytale setting is replaced with the danger and disaster of London during the Blitz, with the obligatory ball taking place in the glamorous Café de Paris in Soho, which was bombed during the air raids.
It’s the perfect combination of contemporary dance, opulent 1940s design and wartime nostalgia. Lez Brotherston’s set and costume designs are exquisite; the hollowed out London street of the set with additional accentuated elements compliment the extended physicality of the choreography and heightened storytelling beautifully. Bourne always gives exaggerated drama in his narrative and movement vocabulary, and this is aided perfectly by the design of each new location, costume and set piece.
Prokofiev may be better known for his Dance of the Knight’s, from Romeo and Juliet, thanks to Sir Alan Sugar, but this beautiful score written during World War II proves to be the perfect accompaniment to this new Wartime Reimagining of a classic. The prince is a pilot, and the stepfather, an injured veteran; and even the Fairy Godmother is replaced with an Angel who is, no doubt, sent to watch over all of the souls at risk during the darkest hours. As with all traditional Ballet Companies, the leading roles are shared between the company, and what a company?!
Will Bozier makes a commanding Pilot, and Andrew Monaghan, who shares the role, is the star of the step-family as Malcolm, the step-brother who bags himself a soldier. Anjali Mehra is suitably snide and deliciously devilish as the Step-Mother whilst Liam Mower is ethereal and empowering as the Angel, orchestrating the evening with a poise not dissimilar to the Swans of Swan Lake.
But it is Ashley Shaw in the title role who captures our attention and heart, from her first step in her sparkly shoes until her final bow; every gesture and affectation oozes the innocence of a neglected daughter and the joy of a girl at her first dance.
This truly is a magical night at the theatre showing an exciting union of Matthew Bourne’s own unique choreographic flair and the unfamiliar but delightful music of Wartime Prokofiev. It is definitely worth missing your carriage at midnight for!
Runs Until Saturday 17th March 2018 | Image: Johan Persson