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Dance Review: Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake - King's Theatre, Glasgow ✭✭✭✭✭



18 years after it first burst onto the stage, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake feels as fresh as if it was premiered yesterday. This globally successful and iconic production is often mistaken as an "all male ballet" but Swan Lake's highly talented, and numerous, cast includes both male and female performers with not a pointe shoe in sight. Well, aside from during the hilarious performance within a performance which has its tongue firmly in its cheek when the royal family attend the ballet. 

The pomp and ceremony surrounding the Royal Family are so familiar and contrast exquisitely with the brash Girlfriend who could easily have found fame on Made in Chelsea, or more appropriately The Only Way is Essex. These instantly contemporary characters and recognisable sets, from the vast royal palace to a seedy nightclub, help to ensure that it hasn't dated at all since it was first performed.

Christopher Trenfield is entrancing as The Swan and his compelling, menacing performance grabs the audience from the moment The Swan appears above The Prince's bed. This split second intrigues and grabs the audience from the outset. Liam Mower's Prince appears as a broken human, desperate for any affection and the atmosphere when he first meets the swans is utterly electric. These 15 strong, masculine swans command both the audience's and the Prince's attention. Their swift movements and neck flicks define them as feral creatures to not only be admired but feared. A far cry from the dainty, tutu clad scenes of traditional productions. Trenfield and Mower make a formidable partnership and the audience is duly rewarded when they finally dance together. Carrie Johnson's Girlfriend is scene stealing and her comedic timing is exquisite.

Aside from the technical mastery and bold choices what makes Matthew Bourne's productions so successful is their accessibility. From the bold posters outside the theatre depicting the imposing swans to the lack of pointe shoes and tutus, Swan Lake continues to defy and challenge the misconceptions about ballet. It shatters the fourth wall and brings the audience to the heart of the performance.

Whether you love ballet and dance or have never seen a dance production his productions are universally accessible. As the ripples of laughter, whether prompted by the Girlfriend answering her phone at the ballet or the superb cygnets, make their way through the audience they take with them any lingering pre-conception of dance as a stuffed shirt art. Described as a "modern day classic" Swan Lake is a delight and sure to enthral audiences for years to come.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is at the King's Theatre until Saturday 22nd February

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