Review by Tulis McCall
(14 Oct 2010)
The first thing that I know about dance is that I can’t do it. Fox Trot and Swing – those I can do. Not this. No way this.
And what I know after seeing this production is this: don’t annoy a swan, even if you are one. Like geese, they don’t think twice about flying at you with those wings outstretched and hissing up a storm. Gorgeous you bet, but not cuddly under normal circumstances.
So a relationship between a young man and a male swan is bound to be fraught, especially when the young man is a Prince whose mother is borderline in the nymphomaniac department.
Matthew Bourne’s Prince is tormented and lonely. Mom won’t give him a tumble, and the rest of the world, pretty much wants his royalty and nothing more. The Prince has nightmares of a Swan that he cannot understand and certainly won’t discuss with anyone. When, in a fit of hormonal pique, he leaves the Palace to go slumming unsuccessfully, he sees the very same swan on the lake in which the Prince planned to drown himself – life takes a Royal Turn.
This is not you run-of-the-mill Swan Lake. Duh. There is no Odette or Odile, or magic sorcerer. There are, however, all the elements that these characters represent. This is a story of fantasy and passion, innocence and eroticism, humor and tragedy, hope and despair. As well, this is way more than Boy Meets Boy. This is rough-and-tumble fantasy, with swans that do everything but take flight, that steps way outside the box but never forgets the music that is the source of the magic.
Bourne honors the music. He has immersed himself into it and come out the other side. With themes so familiar – we grew up hearing the waltzes, the swan theme, the dance of the swans – that it is a mind bender to see the story that Bourne has created and choreographed laid on top of this score. Bourne makes you rethink, re-listen, and re-experience something you thought was familiar.
Bourne is at heart a storyteller, and a brave one.
"Should not be missed. Call it theater, dance, or something perched happily in between, the return of "Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake" is a chance for those who didn't catch it in 1998 to see what kind of life a fertile mind and some pretty cool feathered knickers can breathe into a century-old classic, exposing it to audiences who might never dream of entering an opera house."
Jocelyn Noveck for Associated Press