REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at Milton Keynes Theatre

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty
Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

Once upon a time there was a critically acclaimed choreographer and director who decided to turn a classic fairytale into a gothic romance.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty has given the fairytale a revamp and turned it into an adaptation packed full of contemporary dance with a sprinkling of magic from a world where fairies and vampires battle for love to conquer all.

The show is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday

The show is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday

While Bourne stays true to the well-known storyline and music by Tchaikovsky, his creativity and vision adds some clever tweaks to freshen it up.

Princess Aurora makes her first appearance on stage as a baby, but not in the way you are expecting - the youngster comes to life at the hands of puppeteers, crawling across the stage, climbing a curtain and then gleefully watching as the fairies dance around the cot while no-one else is looking.

As the princess gets older, she meets and falls in love with the man who will be the one to break Carabosse’s evil curse.

But he is not a prince as we thought he would be, Bourne chooses to make Leo the royal game-keeper her beau.

The interval, lasting 100 years, introduces another twist so while Princess Aurora sleeps, Count Lilac as king of the fairies gets his teeth into the game-keeper to ensure he will be there to break the curse and wake Sleeping Beauty from her slumbers when the time comes.

The show’s choreography is truly mesmorising, making it almost impossible to take your eyes off the stage in case you miss something.

Ashley Shaw, playing Princess Aurora in last night’s performance, was an absolute delight to watch.

She danced with such finesse and poise, while also capturing the carefree spirit and wildchild nature of Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty.

In stark contrast is Carabosse, the dark fairy, and her son Caradoc, both played by Tom Clark.

He brings a shroud of darkness to the world of Princess Aurora and her parents, but Count Lilac once again comes to the rescue and brings Caradoc’s reign of evil to an end in dramatic fashion.

And in true fairytale fashion, they all live happily ever after and the story ends with good overcoming bad.

But will people say Bourne’s take on a classic is good or bad?

Well we thought it was brilliant, a fabulously flambuoyant way to enjoy ballet.

The love story has been given a modern edge while retaining the traditions of the tale which has already stood the test of time.

And while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, we thoroughly enjoyed it and could have watched it twice over.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, January 30.

To book tickets go to or call 0844 8717652.