Review: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake - Norwich Theatre Royal

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake has now become a classic.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake has now become a classic. - Credit: Archant

It's almost 20 years since choreographer Matthew Bourne's breathtaking re-imagining of Tchaikovsky's classic Swan Lake shook up the ballet world.

Ripping up the rule book, feathers were ruffled as the traditional female corps de ballet was substituted for an ensemble of menacing, shaven-headed male swans.

But since its world premiere at Sadler's Wells in November 1995, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake has become a true modern dance classic – as well as being the longest running ballet in London's West End and on Broadway it has a host of awards to its name.

And it still thrills today.

Back at Norwich Theatre Royal by popular demand – the show last visited in 2010 –this is Bourne at his absolute best. It is clever, edge of your seat stuff which is hilarious, heartbreaking and nightmarish by turns.


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With dazzling choreography fusing traditional ballet and contemporary dance it tells the story of a conflicted prince who is searching for love, but is trapped by convention and royal protocol.

Bourne's enduring creative partnership with set designer Lez Brotherston adds to the magic.

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There are some stellar principal turns, including Jonathan Ollivier as The Swan, Sam Archer as The Prince and Madelaine Brennan as The Queen, whose froideur makes you shiver.

The cast also features some local talent – ensemble member Reece Haydn Causton, who trained at Footlights Performing Arts School in King's Lynn and the Central School of Ballet in London.

With energetic dancing, exquisite storytelling, a stirring score and emotional punch, this is a theatrical experience that's not to be missed.

• Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday, November 23. Box office: 01603 630000/ www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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