Monday, December 27, 2010

Finally, to complete the coverage of the triumvirate (who's been reading Antony & Cleopatra this morning? And yes, I know it's an incorrect use of the word but I bet you know what I mean) of shows seen by I in London recently, Cinderella.

I love Matthew Bourne. You'll know this by now. I'm very much in love with Sadler's Wells as it beautifully encapsulates all I'll never be. And you can't beat a bit of a Cinderella story in the overfed flop towards Christmas. So I trotted along (at a great rate as we were almost almost late but luckily every show in London seems to start approx 8 minutes late) with hope in my heart.

In many respects, I wasn't disappointed. The set was stunning. Incredibly clever. Gigantically expensive I don't doubt, though with luck, bits of it are recycled from the last time they did it. All majestic manor house and sweeping staircase and overhauled ballroom and departing train platform of it. Evocative and elegant and (World)war(Two)-torn and moody. Maybe (gasp) even a little bit more the star of the show than Cinders herself. I'm thinking of the sinking mirror ball. But would that be mean?

The ballet (show?) burst onto the stage with all the characteristic flamboyance of Mr Bourne. Tippy tappy high heeled shoes, disdainfully flapping arms, boisterous young people and creaking feeble old people. He's created a whole plump and lavish plot that spins out of the Cinderella story to explain why father is so useless and stepmother is so wicked and sisters are so insufferable and Cindarella is so unceasingly sweet. To help us to our midnightish conclusion, we have a boy fairy godmother in a sharp and shiny white suit, a motorbike and sidecar by way of a pumpkin carriage and our blown off course Prince, marvellously meeting Cinders long before midnight strikes when his RAF plane crashes and he's dishevelled and disorientated and the first slippy seeds of love are sown in the dancehall.

The music is as gorgeous as Prokoffy always is. So I couldn't quite put my finger on why I wasn't so astounded and impressed and enraptured and all of these things that I expected to be. Until - catch-up over Christmas reading - I came across Mr Luke Jennings' review of the production in a sliver of old Observer. And he postulates that the problem lies in the fact that Bourne is burdened with too much music.

For Act One goes as it should. Act Two goes a bit fantastical so it's suddenly quite tricky to know if these things are really happening or just dream happening. But then Act Three seems to assume that they kind of did happen but they kind of didn't which is a little more confusing again. And finishes with an unpleasantly protracted eking out of the story that left me feeling more vexed than enthralled. Which isn't at all as it should be as the production (and the dancing) is stunning. But you can see that the poor man was forced into concocting all of these convoluted sub and sideplots to fill up the time. A valuable lesson.

Lyn Gardner put it succintly in a tweet: Cindrella @ Sadlers Wells very enjoyable but needed better dramaturgy; Kick Ass on DVD even better And I'm sorry to say that whilst I have the most hugely enormous amount of respect for the imagination, wit, style and panache of Mr Matthew Bourne, if it came down to a straight (albeit cruel) comparison, I might have to agree.


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