Tag Archives: Matthew Bourne

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet – Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling


Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is not the usual tag line for a Scottish Ballet production but Matthew Bourne could never be accused of being your usual choreographer and Scottish Ballet continue to cement their reputation as a company with a clear artistic vision, breaking new ground by introducing  innovative modern works alongside their vast classical repertoire.

This piece marks the first time Matthew Bourne has ever allowed another company to perform one of his works, such is his control over his artistic vision. That said, the two seemed destined to come together, Bourne’s Glasgow-set ballet finally coming home to the city and Scotland’s national ballet company.


Inspired by the classic romantic work La Sylphide, Highland Fling  is an imaginative re-working by Bourne with his usual wry twist and trademark eye for detail.

Highland Fling follows the story of James, a restless young Glaswegian recently married to his devoted girlfriend Effie, but James’ addiction to excess and desire to break free of  the restrictions and expectations  placed on him by his environment finds him in the fateful company of a beguiling gothic fairy.  As his love for the strange and beautiful sylph becomes an obsession, he embarks on a fateful journey that takes him from the mean streets and nightclubs of Glasgow into a magical world beyond reality and reason.

Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling, performed by the Scottish Ballet

As our (anti)hero staggers on-set and slumps to the floor against a urinal in the toilet of a Glasgow nightclub we are in no doubt that this isn’t going to be your usual ballet, but what really sets it apart, along with all of Bourne’s work, is the stunning complexity and intricacy of the choreography and the sharpness and accuracy with which it is executed. Owen Thorne’s performance as James is testament to Bourne’s particular method of working: this  is a character with a history, a back-story and Thorne manages to deliver the choreography whilst perfectly conveying the conflicted Glaswegian tough-guy persona underneath. Bethany Kingsley-Garner as the sylph is utterly other-wordly, beautifully conveying this bewitching creature from another realm. Both are ably supported by an ensemble of characters instantly recognisable to any city dweller.


Lez Brotherston’s set design is a character in itself. It has more tartan than a tin of shortbread, delivering a technicolour assault to the senses, but looking beyond the obvious, witty nods to the best and worst of Caledonia abound. Brotherston also manages to perfectly evoke the eerie world of the sylphs nestled amongst the debris and detritus of a wasteland in the shadow of the Glasgow highrises.

Part of the beauty of this cautionary tale is its brevity, at just over 95 minutes it packs a visual and emotional punch that leaves you reeling and begging for more.

This is one of Scottish Ballet’s attempts to attract a new audience through its doors – what the old guard make of it remains to be seen, but this arresting tale, beautifully told, deserves to be seen. I urge you not to miss it.

On tour:

9–11 May 2013
Eden Court
Box Office 01463 234 234
Book online
Full booking details

16-18 May 2013
His Majesty’s Theatre
Box Office 01224 641122
Book online
Full booking details

22-25 May 2013
Festival Theatre
Box Office 0131 529 6000
Book online
Full booking details

Booking fees may apply

FEATURE: Having a Highland Fling with Scottish Ballet

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‘Ballet meets Trainspotting’ in Scottish Ballet’s current production of Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling, and to celebrate the Glasgow performances Scottish Ballet invited Bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers and Instagrammers to join them for a special insight event at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal yesterday .

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Starting with breakfast and a chance to meet fellow online theatre writers, the day then continued with an insightful and entertaining talk from Scottish Ballet education officer Emma Jane McHenry. We were eloquently taken through the development of Matthew Bourne’s stunning re-interpretation of La Sylphide, from the inspiration to create the piece, the design process (with a chance to see the costumes up close) and an intriguing insight into how Bourne’s signature choreography has developed.

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Next was the exclusive chance to watch the Company taking class on stage here at the Theatre Royal as the dancers rehearse scenes from this ‘romantic wee ballet’.

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*(Look out for the photo-post of the class, coming next.)

The morning ended with the chance to meet and talk to three of the stunningly talented dancers: Owen Thorne, Brenda Lee Grech and Bethany Kingsley-Garner who insightfully talked us through the development of their characters and the difficulties and differences classically trained dancers have adapting to  Bourne’s choreographic style and artistic process.

This was a fantastic event,  not to be missed, a privileged insight into Scottish Ballet and its works, delivered by friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable and utterly entertaining staff and artists.

Scottish Ballet’s production of Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling is touring to, Inverness, Aberdeen and Inverness throughout May 2013. For more information please visit www.scottishballet.co.uk

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty

FA847502_942longInnovation, originality and humour characterise Matthew Bourne’s ground-breaking work and credit indeed must go to Bourne for the popularisation of ballet amongst the masses. Indeed it has been said that he is: “the most audience conscious artist”. For this production Sleeping Beauty, Bourne returns to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete his trio of the composer’s ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker! and, most famously, in 1995, with the international hit Swan Lake.


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Perrault’s timeless fairy tale, about a young girl cursed to sleep for one hundred years, was turned into a legendary ballet by Tchaikovsky and choreographer, Marius Petipa, in 1890. Bourne takes this date as his starting point, setting the Christening of Aurora, the story’s heroine, in the year of the ballets first performance; the height of the Fin-de-Siecle period when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination.



As Aurora grows into a young woman, we move forwards in time to the more rigid Edwardian era; a mythical golden age of long Summer afternoons, croquet on the lawn and new dance crazes.

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Years later, awakening from her century long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day; a world more mysterious and wonderful than any fairy story.


Bourne Sleeping Beauty, Hannah Vassallo, c Simon_Annand

This is a gothic fairy tale for all ages; the traditional tale of good versus evil and rebirth is turned upside-down, creating a supernatural love story across the decades.

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The tone is set even before the curtain rises: the rose vine covered title superimposed in the proscenium arch, takes us instantly to the pages of a Grimm fairy tale. The music starts and the legend Once upon a time… appears to chuckles of happy recognition from the audience. We are then taken on a mesmerising journey in this Gothic re-telling of the familiar tale.

sa-sleeping-beauty-company-underwear-lines_1000Visually stunning, much more so than Bourne’s previous works, this is ballet as you want it to be – the sets and costumes in themselves evoking an emotional response from the audience. The beautiful, and often familiar music of Tchaikovsky the perfect fairy tale score. The choreography too is innovative, unlike traditional ballet companies, Bourne never feels constrained to stick to one particular style, instead, each scene is imbued with its own unique character and appropriate movement vocabulary. And to Bourne’s credit there is never an indulgent moment, every step sharply drives the plot.  All this in turn captivates the onlooker and keeps their attention to such an extent that the time goes by in a flash.


This is a picture book perfect re-telling of the tale – full of visual delights and gasp-inducing moments and each member of this company is as talented and captivating as the other. New Adventures are the best of the best and this is a production not to be missed. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker – King’s Theatre Glasgow 25th February 2012

One of the most popular dance productions ever staged in the UK, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker returns to celebrate its 20th anniversary. This delicious theatrical feast has family-sized helpings of Matthew Bourne’s trademark wit, pathos and magical fantasy.

Nutcracker! follows Clara’s bittersweet journey from a hilariously bleak Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross’ Orphanage, through a shimmering, ice-skating winter wonderland to the scrumptious candy kingdom of Sweetieland.

Tchaikovsky’s glorious score and Anthony Ward’s unforgettable sets and costumes combine with sizzling choreography to create a delicious theatrical feast. Hailed by The Observer as ‘the undisputed king of dance theatre’, Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures has produced some of the most successful dance productions of the last two decades including Swan Lake, Edward Scissorhands and last year’s sell-out hit, Cinderella.

This production is truly scrumptious, it is an absolute delight for the eyes, but the very best thing about it is the fact that it whips along at warp-speed. There’s no faffing, no unnecessary padding – it is quality from start to finish. If all dance productions were like this then I guarantee more people would go.

The quality of the sets, costumes and above all the highly talented dancers is just phenomenal and I defy anyone not to go awww as the snow falls on the frozen lake at the end of act one.

This was an absolute delight – there were repeated curtain calls with much whooping and hollerings of delight from the absolutely packed house. Thankfully dance is not dead in British theatre and long may Matthew Bourne produce quality like this.

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