Once again, Matthew Bourne brings us an inspired and beautiful version of an all time classic. Set in 1940 during the Blitz in London, he gives us a truly captivating and visually exciting production that is full of humour, character and sumptuous music by Prokofiev.
Bourne’s choreography is always character driven which makes it very assessable. Cinderella is a well know story but Bourne brilliantly flips it on to head to make it fresh and engaging. Cinderella played by Ashley Shaw is as ever down trodden by her step family. She has poise and sass and really comes into her own as a blonde beauty in the ball scene. No longer a Prince, our hero is an injured RAF pilot, Harry. Will Bozier plays Harry with gusto and vulnerability and the chemistry between the two is electric.
The step family are full of comic characters including the Stepmother Sybil played by Anjali Mehra who has some comically wicked moments.
The most exciting reimagining is the Fairy God Mother who has become The Angel magnificently and charismatically played by Liam Mower as the all-knowing guardian overseeing Cinders and London’s demise as it gets bombed. All in a ghostly white, Mower presides over all the action with his expansive classical movements making him stand out like an angel of doom.
The ballroom scene is transposed to the Cafe De Paris that was bombed during the Blitz in 1941. Cinderella gets her man but the ballroom gets bombed at the end of the scene. It is a triumphant scene that is both romantic and full of nightmares.
The resetting of the story to 1940s London never seems to be predictable and the romance of the story is rooted in the darkness of the time. The love duet is set in a dowdy flat and is beautifully poignant. Love and romance are seen to be merely fleeting in a world that is changing.
A lot of the success of this production is down to Bourne and his creative team. The Designer Lez Brotherston totally transports us to wartime London. The opening act at the family house is monochrome and feels more like a film. The Cafe De Paris comes alive and several London locations are effortlessly portrayed when Harry is searching for Cinders. Neil Austin’s lighting design adds to the filmic quality of the opening act and begins to colour the later scenes as Cinderella’s dream unfolds. As London is bombed, the set dismantles and the whole stage looks as if it is on fire. It is simultaneously a horrific and utterly beautiful moment.
Cinderella is a modern retake on a classic with the fairytale underpinned by the darkness of the time. It is clever, funny and poignant. Bourne always manages to maintain the balance between choreography and drama and his dancers never falter in their execution of his steps.
This is a triumphant and beautiful production that is rooted in history as well as in fairy tales.
Runs until 7th April 2018
Wales Millennium Centre