Swan Lake – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review by Frank L.
Directed by Matthew Bourne
26 Feb 2019 – 2 Mar 2019
In 1995, Matthew Bourne created his version of the most beloved of classical ballets, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. His dance shattering idea was that all of the swans would be male. The result took the world of ballet by storm as the swan was an image of the utmost femininity. Bourne’s male swans transformed how the ballet was perceived by audiences.
In 2018, Bourne returned to the ballet and created new designs, lighting and revised choreography but fear not as Bourne says “the differences are mainly in the detail”. It retains all the elements which made it such an international hit all those years ago.
During its Dublin run, the part of the Swan/the Stranger is performed by Will Bozier or Max Westwell with the part of the Prince by James Lovell or Dominic North. The central roll is that of the Swan/the Stranger and Bozier was, on the night which this reviewer saw the show, splendid in performing both characters. His Swan was powerful, masterful and affectionate while his Stranger was mysterious, threatening and sinister. North portrayed the Prince as a suitably uncertain, nervy young man, lacking in confidence under the thumb of his unloving Mother. When the Stranger and the Prince dance together at the Royal Ball the atmosphere is electric and together they move as one.
While the principal roles are obviously vital they depend to a large extent on the power of the outstanding chorus of swans. It is their performance which gives the entire piece its character and strength. It is well complemented by a series of smaller scenes including a performance of a ballet within a ballet when the stage is transformed into a small theatre and an excruciatingly traditional ballet is performed brilliantly in a stereotypically traditional stylised manner. This stands in contrast to a scene in a seedy nightclub where the cast show their mettle on the dance floor where a down-at-heel “stripper” hilariously shows that she is well past her sell-by date.
Bourne’s Swan Lake has introduced new audiences to the world of dance in its many forms and it is a delight to let it unfold in all its magnificent fun and splendour and let your mind soar to greater heights and marvel at the swans. It remains inventive, innovative and utterly beautiful.