Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty

Apr 14 2023 | By More

★★★★☆     Enchanting

Festival Theatre: Tue 11 April – Sat 15 April 2023
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

New Adventures’ magical production of Sleeping Beauty, at the Festival Theatre all week, tells the timeless tale of Princess Aurora with a modern gothic twist that has you hooked from the start.

Directed and beautifully choreographed by Matthew Bourne, the production is filled with dark and sinister aspects and intense action, not something now associated with Sleeping Beauty thanks to its popular Disney film adaption. This interpretation with gothic elements is arguably truer to the essence of the original tale.

A scene from Sleeping Beauty. Pic: Johan Persson

The story begins in 1890 with baby Aurora who is cleverly puppeteered in a way which highlights the mischievous nature of the child and is made all the more comical as exhausted staff members and Nanny (Daisy May Kemp) work tirelessly to control her. Kemp’s comedic timing and storytelling particularly shines in this opening act.

There is a slightly creepy and supernatural feel as Aurora scales the gold curtains and this feeling intensifies with the introduction of the troupe of the good fairies led by Count Lilac (Paris Fitzpatrick) and the evil dark fairy.


As Aurora comes of age, an innocent love blossoms between Princess Aurora – performed with bright and youthful energy by Cordelia Braithwaite – and the handsome Gamekeeper Leo (Rory Macleod). Yet the story that surrounds them is far from innocent and features a curse which lasts 100 years, really putting the young lovers’ connection to the test.

A scene from Sleeping Beauty. Pic: Johan Persson

The dark fairy Carabosse and her son Caradoc both played fantastically by Ben Brown in this production with an assertive command, juxtapose greatly with the delicacy and sweet nature of the two lovers. Brown is creepy in both roles, but particularly as Caradoc who is trying to seek revenge for his mother, as he simultaneously attracts and repulses in his interactions with Aurora.

Bourne at his best

The lavish set and detailed costume design by Lez Brotherston is quite stunning and easily moves from the late 19th century to the modern day. The incorporation of travelators only adds to the mysticalness of the performance and they are integrated seamlessly with the choreography. In addition to a mirrored set design – which gives the illusion of an expansive space – other clever set choices bring a sprinkle of fairytale magic.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s score, this Sleeping Beauty is a blend of classic ballet and modern dance yet it is still, at its core, a story of good versus evil. But Bourne’s adaption is particularly thrilling for his unexpected twists and turns, the elements of seduction and its sex appeal. Particularly in Act 4’s sultry nightclub-esq scene in which is Bourne at his best.

Running Time: Two hours 10 minutes (including one interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT.
Tue 11 – Sat 15 April 2023
Evenings: 7.30pm, Mats Thurs, Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

A scene from Sleeping Beauty. Pic: Johan Persson


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.