SWAN LAKE - again.

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SWAN LAKE - again.

Postby Barry » Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:19 pm

The Regent theatre, Stoke on trent, February 18th 2010

The numerous joys of revisiting Matthew Bourne's brave and brilliant reinvention of Swan Lake was multiplied by introducing some Swan Lake virgins to it. Happily an animation student working back stage got us some freebies, and a group of us sat there entranced. I was of course, but I was enjoying my colleagues being drawn in and marvellingat the whole huge experience. It is tighter than ever, and I enjoy seeing how the design has been tweaked - the Queen's dress has gone from a rich purple in the ball, to a shocking dazzling red. I don't recall the front cloth of a door and a window before the confrontation of the nurses (a scene that allows the swans to transform again). Knowing the piece so well, and the swans are not part of my psyche, it's good to see how the plot is all there in the background detail....so much is going on that reflect the main thrust. But oh those swans.......simply iconic. To say Matthew Bourne has done nothing as good since is a huge disservice to his other brilliant work, but Swan lake is a masterpiece that he just happened to do early in his career...and how many doors that opened since. But what a night, and it seemed appropriate to walk out into the snow afterwards, with everyone reeling. Surely the cast can't just think this is another performance in another provincial town. I hope they realise just how special a piece it is. But why is it that all my great evenings at the theate; Swan Lake, War Horse, Cunning Little Vixen, Still Life at the Penguin Cafe, all have people being animals. Nicholas Nickleby should be there but I can't make that fit.
As always I get frustrated by people fighting such shows when I can see the transformation it can effect. Mind you I am resistant to pop music and football matches and such.
A somewhat different Swan Lake to the last one I saw which was the Chinese Acrobatic version, that was impressive but bizarre.
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Re: SWAN LAKE - again.....again

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:11 pm

The Lowry, March 6th 2010

I admit it. I'm a terrible person, and I'm sorry - no. I'm not. Sometimes there are productions that are just too important to me to have someone sat next to me who is neither buying into it, or thinking about what to drink in the interval. And Swan Lake is such a show that I will immerse myself in to the detriment probably of any company. And so I found myself sat alone on the front row of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, probably for my 16th time., and with an empty wasted seat next to me. At curtain up I'm not sure I have ever been so grumpy, and actually I didn't want to be there and nearly didn't bother going. I had called various chums who were either busy,which is fair, or weren't interested, which I'm not sure is fair. One even said, with a curious tinge of homophobia, that the male swans made him uncomfortable (and this from a man whose closet door is somewhat ajar.). And then I got there and the audience made me uncomfortable, overdressed, and some of them simply there to be seen going to the ballet, as if this gave them a brownie point. But I'm afraid, I shut the audience out, talked to no-one, and just focused on the show, glaring at some unbelievable overheard comments. I told you I was a terrible person.

So I had seen the show two weeks ago in Stoke, but from quite a way back, but here I was on the front, centre, and there on stage, watching every drip of sweat, every flutter of swan trousers, every glint of sequin, every focused performer in the wings. Tongiht was the Richard Winsor/Dominic North pairing, and they are, I think, the best since Adam Cooper and Scott amler, the originals. Winsor is certainly so heavy with prescence and dirty naughty eyes, and so relaxed. North is young and sleight but so tragically innocent, though everyone is upstaged by the swan. I so want to spend one performance backstage watching the organised chaos, and the two transformations in to the swans. The second one is pretty darn quick. To do this show twice a day must be a killer, especially for the swans/men who are in all four acts. They don't get a breather at all. I noticed a lot of flesh coloured bandages and such....injuries must be rife. But the piece is still astonishing, and now clearer than ever. The Queen's part is especially credible now. It is gorgeous choreography, and i'm looking at it trying to well nto absorb but think about my own film coming up as there are similarities. A production that shows no sign of its fifteen years, certainly not from this cast, and the response fromt he audience was deafening, and there was a unique sound of twelve hundered eyes and minds opening, and my silent voice saying 'I told you so'.

I reread the entry for this, when I last saw it in Manchester, again on the front row. I thought it was just a year ago, but it was actually five, and I ended up in tears, for so many reasons. I thought that was the last time I would see it and so I thought tonight, but I'm afraid I will need my fix again. Men as animals and birds just strikes so many resonances in me. I think this might be the specific production I have seen more times than any (though Hamlet is probably the play I have seen more than any), or maybe Still Life at the penguin Cafe - animals again.

Oh but to have achieved something like this......perfection.
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