Theatre in Wales

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Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures , Wales Millennium Centre , April 3, 2018
Cinderella by Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Maybe it was that Prokofiev composed his sweeping and dynamic music at that time also played a part. In this spectacular, grand filmic production with its surround sound we are totally drawn into the horrors of war and into the life of the very real people we see on the stage.

But before we meet the people we are blown away by Lez Brotherston’s Olivier award-winning, commanding set design, with its searchlights and crashing buildings creating a strong feeling of the times. Neil Austin’s lighting design also plays an important part in completing the picture.

Here Prince Charming is a wounded RAF officer who seems to haunt us and our little heroine from much earlier in the tale than usual. The magic of Will Bozier’s performance grows as he dances his way into Cinderella’s heart. We meet the family in their home. Cinderella looks after her wheelchair bound dad and is forced to carry out demeaning chores by her wicked step mother and her two ugly sisters.

You can always depend on Matthew Bourne’s dancers being equally good actors and this is very clear from the start. Cinderella’s sisters are not ugly but Sophia Hurdley and Nicole Kabera give them an elegant haughtiness that the choreography captures perfectly. Stepmother, Anjali Mehra is very naughty but she is also a lush and dances ‘drunk’ in a very amusing manner.

We don’t have a Fairy Godmother either. We do have a very enigmatic Angel, Liam Mower who, in his white suit and hair does dance with a heavenly allure as he guides Cinderella towards her happiness.

Ashley Shaw’s transformation from complete shyness to contented wife is superbly danced, drawing a few gasps and tears from us along the way. Her work together with Mower’s Angel is an almost overwhelming joy. She also gives us a very clever and highly amusing ‘routine’ with a tailor’s dummy.

As Bourne’s choreography skills continue to develop he demands some movements from his cast that seem impossible. His dancers always respond well to these challenges, always fitting them well into the emotion of the story.

Of course, as a result of Angel’s necromancy Cinderella does go to the ball and he finds her the most glamorous, diamond sparkling dancing shoes. It all happens in London’s Café de Paris with Alan Vincent’s Bandleader giving us some great moments of humour and the company more of their wonderful ensemble dancing, though that’s too small a word for the brilliance they achieve. More brilliance follows as the ballroom is hit by enemy bombs and the stage is reduced to complete rubble.

Cinderella, now confirmed her relationship with her recovered hero. They share a bed together in a small lack-lustre room but she is badly hurt and taken off in a stretcher. But soon all is well. We see that they are married. It’s Paddington Station not St Pancras and our two lovers do go off together. Phew!

We have experienced one of the finest achievements of theatre art. Can it be equalled? We shall see when Matthew Bourne brings us his next production.

'til 7 April

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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