Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Milton Keynes Theatre (miltonkeynestheatre)
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

Reviewed by Alison Smith 30th January 2019

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, is far removed from
traditional performances of this world famous ballet. The modern yet dateless
décor and costumes – a mobile phone rings but the settings are redolent of
trappings of passé courtly distinctions – underline the theme that broken
beings are universal, that tragedy strikes universally. In this society, the
Queen has power and privilege, the young men are dashing, the young women
beautiful and independent. And yet one young man is   very troubled. The Prince, the main
protagonist (Liam Mower) suffers. The Queen, his mother (Katrina Lyndon) is
cold and uncaring and rejects any physical contact with him – although she has
no such qualms about being touched by, or touching. other young men. His goofy
girlfriend (Carrie Willis) is shallow and materialistic. Is it then surprising
that the Prince looks for contact from another being? His mental turmoil leads
him to drink and despair and ultimately into the arms of The Swan, a powerful,
dominating creature whose tragic death leads that of the broken-hearted Prince.

The performance is not bleak. There is much wit and
humour – the girlfriend’s gaffes, the corgi, the dancing in the Swank Bar, the
desperate antics of the Queen, the caricature that is the Private Secretary
(Jordon Packer). But it is the dancing which is intoxicating and above all else
that of The Swan and his human form, the Stranger (Max Westwell). Westwell’s
technical skill and athleticism are remarkable. As The Swan he swoops, stomps
and hisses; as the Stranger in Act 3 he oozes virility and aggression; he
stalks and disrupts, an attitude which ultimately results in tragedy. His flock
are of his ilk – menacing and vicious. In the final act they are rat-like in
their appearance from under the bed, inside the bed and from the wings - their
ferality frightening and tragic.

Swan Lake is thrilling and mesmerising. The dancing is both beautiful and

sinister; the representation of love and its possible
aftermath is heartfelt. It is an inspirational, powerful, passionate ballet. It
is a must-see.


At MK Theatre until Saturday 2nd February