Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at the Lyceum Theatre Sheffield Review

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Reviewed by Jenny Seymour

For those of you who arrive at the Lyceum ready to see the 4 cygnet ballerinas gracefully glide across the stage, this is NOT the production of Swan Lake for you! I can imagine how this production may have turned heads and offended many a traditional ballet lover when it was first created in the mid-1990s.

However, instead you will be treated to the most compelling choreography from the cast of male swans that was incredible. My friend and I had never seen such fabulous dancing – we were in awe! As were the whole audience. There was certainly something for everyone as the cast came on to a full standing ovation for the finale.

Will Bozier’s performance as The Swan (and the Stranger) was phenomenal and the love story told between him and the Prince, played by Dominic North was beautiful. Some may say this is somewhat more psychological than the traditional productions of Swan Lake, but it also has some comedic moments.

From the moment the orchestra take up their bows, the cinematic version of the swan flying off into the distance sets the scene for the nightmares that plague the Prince’s mind. We are given a glance into the long-suffering Prince’s life alongside his elegant mother (played so well by Nicole Kabera) – the endless opening ceremonies and public functions, the paparazzi and the trail of beautiful princesses that his mother would like to see him marry. Instead, the Prince’s eye is taken by a less than acceptable girlfriend (in his mother’s opinion), played by Katrina Lyndon, and there are some fabulous scenes where ballet almost meets musical theatre and the Prince insists on taking his new girlfriend to public functions.

Whilst the ballet within a ballet is quite funny at the beginning, this may actually offend some serious ballet lovers, as it does in fact skit the fact that the butterfly takes an age to die and then miraculously dances back to life!

The set once again is amazing – the use of the full depth of the stage to give the vision of grandeur in the palace and the Prince’s bedroom worked really well, as did the lighting and smoke to create the dark lake on which the swans glided along saving the Prince from near death and torment.

The whole scene on Swan Lake was just phenomenal. I actually prefer the male swans to the graceful prima ballerinas who play the roles traditionally. The hissing and breathing simply bring them alive and the swan trousers are magnificent. It was a breath of fresh air to see ballet danced with such masculinity. Again compelling!

I loved the fact that this is set in the classic 50s/60s era. The costumes in those first scenes were just stunning. Who else has seen a ballet set in jazz club complete with drunk dance artist? Amazing adaptation. 

You still get the benefit of the beautiful music of Tchaikowsky and there will be much of the music that the audience will recognise, even if you have never been to the ballet before.

Every cast member danced their part brilliantly and were all so talented. I thought it was just exquisite.

What I love about this production is that it brings ballet to the masses. Unlike traditional ballet where you often have to rely upon the programme to give you a synopsis of each scene so that you understand what is happening within the story, Matthew Bourne’s production tells the story with such clarity that you are left in no doubt. It also leaves so much to the imagination. How did the Prince end up being treated the way he was? Did the Swan really love him or his mother? What a tragic finale for a tortured soul. An inspired entrance for the swan in the last scene – really shows the torture setting in the mind!

Well done Matthew Bourne and thank you for bringing this production on tour so that we all get the opportunity to see such exquisite performances. 

Outstanding compelling performance of this unique adaptation of the traditional tale – I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to see it!

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £25 (booking fees may apply).

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from 21-25 May 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.

Please note:  If you park in the local Q Park car park, remember to claim your 1 hour FREE ticket from one of the members of the theatre staff before you leave.

Lyceum Theatre, Norfolk St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 1DA ‎| 0114 249 6000

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