Sadler's Wells revival, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake - reviews

Bourne's cheeky rewrite of a much-loved classic is witty, lyrical and as relevant as ever

LAST UPDATED AT 07:43 ON Tue 17 Dec 2013
What you need to know

Reviewers are praising Sadler's Wells' latest revival of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake as "fresh and vigorous" and "relevant". Bourne's modern re-interpretation of the classical ballet was first staged in 1995.

The production is loosely based on the Russian romantic ballet with music by Tchaikovsky, in which an unhappy prince falls in love with a swan. Bourne's version is best known for replacing the traditional female swan ensemble with male dancers, thereby suggesting a gay love story.

At Sadler's Wells, London, until 26 January.

What the critics like

Bourne's contemporary dance-theatre staging is "as fresh and vigorous as ever", says Debra Craine in The Times. Whether you see it as a gay love story, a cautionary tale or a cheeky rewrite of a much-loved classic, this Swan Lake still packs a tremendous punch.

"Bourne's striking reimagining still has the power and passion to move," says Rachel Ward in the Daily Telegraph. This revival of Bourne's masterpiece is witty, menacing, lyrical and wild and feels as relevant as on that first outing.

"This is a Swan Lake for both those who know the work inside out, and those who have never seen it before," says Sam Smith on The Londonist. Some will marvel at this clever retelling, while others will simply be whisked along by the exciting plot and the expressiveness of these highly skilled dancers.

What they don't like

Bourne's crass, modernised version rejects everything that makes Swan Lake a marvel of classical ballet, says Clement Crisp in the Financial Times. The cast do admirably well and the design is skilled but "Swan Lake is notable by its absence". · 

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