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Oh, shush, yes, I saw this twice. once for... testing purposes. quality control. :sideye: it was a new Matthew Bourne. Quality control is *important*. And the others needed a guide the second time around.

Soooo. This had been re-jigged in the grand tradition of Matthew Bourne, but not nearly as much as he normally does - this is probably his most ballet-ish of all his pieces, including the choreography. it's also the one that sticks closest to the version of the fairy tale we know through popular culture - Baby Aurora gets cursed, falls asleep for a hundred years when she comes of age, woken by kiss. This one, a lot of the joy was about the setting and nuttiness they'd come up with to make the plot make sense. Baby Aurora is born/given to the King and Queen in 1890 (same year as the classic ballet) by the dark fairy Carabosse, so her coming of age is 1912, so they did the party as an Edwardian garden party, complete with waltzes and tennis and *incredibly* ocd butler. Given how the King and Queen are dressed, you get serious overtones of Tsar Nikolai, which equals implications of hemophilia as to why they'd had to seek out help in getting a baby - and why the castle gets forgotten/shut up. Oh, added note: Carabosse died in exile so her son Caradoc takes up the revenge baton, leaving a poisoned rose lying around to get Aurora after dancing with her at the party - and something I seriously liked, rather than pricking her finger and going off into a long dance, she collapses, has fits, staggers about and then collapses into a fit again before the coma. (also means less chance of her boyfriend the gardener getting blamed)

Cue 100 years, (the fairies? vampires. Count Lilac turns her gardener boyfriend Leo so he can survive to wake her up) so she wakes up in the modern day - you only get a glimpse of this via the clothing of Leo in his tent waiting by the castle gates and the bored teenagers who've made a pilgrimage to leave notes and flowers - it's a nice echo of people making pilgrimages to Oscar Wilde's tomb - Leo kissing her and Caradoc kicking him out just before she wakes up, carting a very confused Aurora off to the fairy vampire club as a sacrifice. And yes, it's *very* True Blood. With all the silly overtones that implies of everyone posing in the vampire club. Leo and Lilac rescue her just before she's sacrificed, they go off, have ... half-vampire-fairy baby. aka 'Lilac, you sneakily manipulative sod. bravo'.

Things you need to know: Lilac is all about the blue steel. Chris Marney, who mostly plays him, is all about *serious* *dramatic* face when playing Lilac, and has told me on twitter that he's honing his Zoolander tribute.
First scenes are all about the creepy puppet baby Aurora who insists on getting as far and fast away from her minders (maids, valets & governess) as possible. Utterly hysterical. (Grown Aurora continues this by shedding her shoes and running off whenever possible)
How to morph wings into the present day: have them painted on the back of your exquisitely tailored jacket. Preferably in glitter studs.
Huzzah for the OCD butler.
There is a fucking giant sleeping Angel statue in the back of the garden party. Cue our entire party going 'don't. blink.'

Costuming: Starts with general Edwardian (mostly white due to the garden party and black for the staff & governess), and the fairies are wearing messed up rag and feather and glitter victorian period - corsets and bustles with regency jackets, very TARDIS in human form (implication that they scavenge, so always out of date) with eyes blacked out in Bladerunner makeup style with little stubby wings on their backs. Present day, Leo's in a hoodie and skinny jeans, there's a long dream dance in period undies (very lovely) in the castle grounds amongst the fog and trees, and the fairy vamp club is all velvet, pvc, leather, shiny suits, lace and tutus in red and black. (Pam would love it, except there's no bondage gear)

Verdict: Overall enjoyable and fun. Enormously silly in places. Lovely in others. Could really've done with more outside world present day, since that entire act goes from the castle dreamworld straight to the fairy vamp club with no inbetween. And the club's heavy on the brocade as it is. If only for seeing Aurora's reaction to it, since she's such a pleasure to watch reacting to the new and different with wild-eyed glee. (unless it's creepy vampire fairy party guests who're acting way outside her comfort and personal space zone that she gets away from as fasgt as is considered polite - it's actually quite nice seeing that played as 'this is not fun in the slightest bit, getting away now' for once.) Fairies dances went on too long for my taste. I know it's showing off the dancers, and apparently it's a direct nod to the classical ballet (there's a lot of these in this one) but tbh, I felt it just dragged on. Bit too much introductory paragraphs projected on the curtains every time they leapt years. Aurora/Leo is adorable - playful, discovering everything together, on the same page. Oh, and Lilac and Caradoc are so clearly boyfriends.

Of the two casts I saw I preferred Hannah Vassallo (tinier and more round-faced mischevious doll-like than *anyone*!) and Dominic North as Aurora and Leo, Kerry Biggin as the Queen (She's now queenly enough and nearly old enough to do Queenie in Swan Lake and was definitely more obviously skilled at getting nuance across in a gesture - there was a nice moment in the vamp club where she was being random vamp where she was still being queenly in gesture and showed very slight concern when Aurora appeared) Ben Bunce played the king both times. Adam Maskell played Caradoc/Carabosse both times, Chris Marney Count Lilac.

Comparisons of the dancers in the 'what did we see them as?' dance we always do. Including 'Heather is of course sulking slightly that Richard Winsor's not in it, but there's really no place for him in this.' 'I agree but it doesn't stop me from pouting.' 'how to find which one is Richard Winsor: check where on the stage Heather's staring.'

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April 2014


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