Reviewed by Christine Charlesworth
On Tuesday 30th April I had the pleasure of visiting the New Victoria Theatre in Woking to see the new production of Swan Lake by the multi award winning Matthew Bourne. I had seen his acclaimed first ‘Swan Lake’ almost 20 years ago and was, therefore, looking forward to being as delighted and surprised by this brand-new production which promised revised choreography, lighting and design. I was not disappointed.
The theatre was filled with an air of excitement. A large proportion of the audience appeared to be groups of women of various ages, a few school groups, smaller number of couples with a lower percentage of men. I saw no spare seats.
The front of the stage was filled by a large screen which showed a black and white picture of a swan flying through a foggy evening light. Immediately prior to the start of performance this picture came to life and we were treated to various scenes of the swan flying to music by Tchaikovsky, which was a great way to begin. Sadly, there was no live orchestra as all music is pre-recorded.
This production is divided into 4 main Acts. Act 1 has 7 separate scenes which take you from the Prince’s Bedroom, with an enormous double bed, to Palace, Opera House, areas of the Palace and a Seedy Nightclub, to name a few. All scene changes were done smoothly with an excellent eye for set design. There is a lot of information to understand in Act 1 which could be made more confusing with all the scene changes and occasional acts of pantomime. Act 2 A City Park and Act 3 The Royal Ball were my favourite scenes, although I was also impressed with the superb timing in the dancing at the Seedy Club.
The iconic male swans continue to delight the audience with their swan-like grace, strength, vitality and sudden shows of aggression. In particular the main swan. However, with many scenes requiring both male and female roles we also have the chance to be delighted by female dance performances, in particular Nicole Kabera as The Queen.
Costumes are superb. Swans are feathered (apart from their sweating, muscular torsos), ball-gowns are a delight in design, silks rustle, leather shines, uniforms sparkle.
As always, choreography and timing was faultless. Scene changes were slick, music was sometimes a little strange. Lighting was excellent and in some scenes there was a clever use of shadows, to great effect. The story was sometimes a little difficult to follow but this is certainly a production that I would recommend seeing. I have not given too many details as this is a story for interpretation.
However, there is a very clever ending.
Tickets cost from £19.40 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from 30 April to 4 May 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/new-victoria-theatre or call the box office on 0844 871 7645.
New Victoria Theatre, The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ