Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in 3D
This ravishing production from Sadler’s Wells in London is at once contemporary and utterly timeless. Bourne’s re-telling of the classic ballet has more than a slight Freudian overtone to the narrative; the adult Prince (touchingly portrayed by Dominic North) has mother issues; is seduced by a bimbo, then falls for a man who is half swan, before being driven mad by love. We’ve all been there.
Matthew Bourne’s worlds-within-worlds are heady and imaginative, evocative of 50s Hollywood glamour but shot through with a pinch of the dark stuff when the tone gets too cheeky. Lead dancer Richard Winsor in the role originally made famous by Adam Cooper flits effortlessly between tough but tender masculinity as The Swan and swaggering sexual predator in leather as The Stranger, seducing an entire room of women.
Much has of course been made of the strutting corps de ballet playing the swans (and they are wonderful) but the standout scene has to be the passionate pas de deux between North and Winsor. North is vulnerable in a way male dancers rarely seem, clinging to Winsor for protection. It is truly beautiful.
There is strong female representation too in Nina Goldman’s elegant, imperious Queen, and in sharp contrast, the brash gold digger played for laughs by Madelaine Brennan, the proverbial bad penny who just can’t be bought off (shades of Sarah Ferguson, perhaps?).
Ballet is as ever only half the story for Bourne- there is also a fabulous flamenco-inflected routine and the company, appropriately enough “shaking a tail feather” in Swank, “a seedy bar.” Above all, the 3D effects enhance the film, as dancers almost leap into your lap; Bourne has an almost painterly eye for composition, making Swan Lake 3D the perfect antidote to the Jubilee.