Review: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Theatre Royal Nottingham

Matthew Bourne's SWAN LAKE. 15-12-2009
Matthew Bourne's SWAN LAKE. 15-12-2009

Live theatre frequently produces memorable scenes and performances that stay with audience members long after they exit the auditorium.

The performance of the powerful, threatening and hypnotic all-male swans in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is one of those that once seen that you will never forget.

In creating this production, Bourne took the classic ballet and not just injected a modern day twist to the well-loved show, but gave it a whole new feel, style and impact.

There is barely a ballet shoe in sight: instead his choreography to Tchaikovsky’s score is more of a contemporary dance performance that uses balletic movements.

Bourne’s swans are athletic, strong and unbelievably graceful. The City Park act is mesmerising, and the final scene in the Prince’s Bedroom is menacing and dramatic, reminiscent of a kill scene in a wildlife documentary.

Bare-torsoed and barefoot, the swans wear recognisable fringed short trousers and have a black beak-like marking down their foreheads.

They swoop and pounce with elegance, but small birdlike moves remind you that they are indeed birds. They are, quite simply, excellent.

Chris Trenfield, as The Swan and the Stranger, put in a dominant and masterful performance.

His interaction with The Prince (Simon Williams) oozes sexual tension and at the Royal Ball he takes partner after partner with a control and swagger that leaves the room swooning.

Simon Williams, as the Prince, is a tormented character. His acting talent as much as his dancing skills are put to the test, and the audience feels his anguish as he battles with his confused emotions.

Though full of drama, Swan Lake has its humorous moments. Much of these come from the Prince’s bubbly Girlfriend (Anjali Mehra), whose lack of Royal manners help lighten the mood.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is on at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until Saturday 15th March.