Cinderella by Matthew Bourne and New Adventures: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Reviewed 26th May 2018
Cinderella is another spectacular ballet to come from Sir Matthew Bourne’s dance company New Adventures. Having premiered in 1997 at Sadler’s Wells, this UK tour marks the shows 20th Anniversary and the 30th Anniversary of New Adventures.
Instantly the audience is transported back to the 1940’s Second World War with Lez Brotherston’s amazing set and costumes. The subtle greys, blues and purples work fantastically together to create a sombre, oppressive setting for this updated version of the traditional tale of Cinderella. With projections by Duncan McLean and outstanding lighting by Neil Austin, this show is a feast for the eyes.
As always, Sir Matthew Bourne’s choreography is innovative, expressive and modern. It is not a traditional ballet. Instead it is a fusion of contemporary, ballet, theatrical dance and movement. All of these styles work seamlessly together to create something special on stage. The brilliant characterisation of the dancers through their gestures and relationships with each other in addition to the superb dancing always make New Adventure’s productions stand out from the other, perhaps more traditional, ballet shows.
The dancing is performed effortlessly at all times. At points during the show the dancers almost appear to float gracefully through the air. The innovative choreography is engaging and breathtaking. Every step is executed perfectly and with grace. Each member of the cast is extremely talented and committed to their craft – which is evident as soon as the show starts.
The story itself is very different to the traditional tale of Cinderella. For a start it is set in World War II, but there are also additional characters and plot twists which may disappoint audience members expecting to see the Disney version on stage. However, whilst it may not be exactly what some of the audience are expecting, for many the story created onstage is more engaging and interesting due to these changes. It is easy to follow and understand, because of the theatrical nature of Matthew Bourne’s choreography, and the changes made modernise the tale and make this version stand out from the norm.
In this version, Cinderella and meets a dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz. The ‘Magic Godmother‘ is instead ‘The Angel‘ who is performed effortlessly. The magical element of being able to control Cinderella and others comes across on stage beautifully and really shows The Angel as being the crux of the show. The vulgarity that you may expect to come from the Ugly Stepsisters comes instead from the step brother with his leering eyes and the cruel, evil Stepmother.
The music by Prokofiev is very fitting and works extremely well with the story and choreography. It is a shame that the music is not performed live but due to limiting factors of touring this is not possible. The recording is performed by a specially commissioned 60-piece orchestra. Despite the lack of a live orchestra the sound quality, at this performance, was very good.
Matthew Bourne has been creating and directing dance for the last 30 years and is commonly regarded as one of the UK’s most popular and successful choreographers and directors. With shows like this it is easy to see why. This touring production could easily be at home in London’s West End with its style and grace coupled with its fantastic storytelling and superb sets. Anyone who enjoys dance should make this show on top of their wish lists. Catch it while you can!
Cinderella is on tour until the 10th March 2019. For information click here.
Photo Credit: Simon Annand