Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at The Bristol Hippodrome

Posted on: 2023-03-01

Our rating:

“A show so breathtakingly beautiful I could watch it again and again”


Vivienne Kennedy reviews Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at the Bristol Hippodrome, where it plays until Saturday 4 March.


When Sleeping Beauty premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2022, it became the fastest-selling production in the New Adventures company’s history. I first saw it when it visited Bristol for the second time, in 2016, having inadvertently booked a holiday that clashed with its first visit a few years earlier. I was captivated by its magic then and as soon as I saw it was being revived, knew I wanted to see it again.


While Tchaikovsky’s music is the same, anyone familiar with Petipa’s classic choreography for The Sleeping Beauty (which I was lucky enough to see performed by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden recently), will find this gothic romance, featuring vampires as well as princesses and fairies (the good and the evil varieties) quite, quite different. 

We are taken time travelling, from Aurora’s birth in the 1890s, through to her coming of age in the golden Edwardian summer of 1911, via a very long sleep, to yesterday. There is drama aplenty, laugh-out-loud moments of comedy, clever puppetry, and, of course, stunning dance, and every moment is a joy to watch. I particularly enjoy the performances of Katrina Lyndon as Princess Aurora, Rory MacLeod as Leo, the Royal Gamekeeper, and Ben Brown, who plays both Carabosse, the dark fairy, and Caradoc, her son.


The choreography is perfect; the sets and costumes, designed by Lez Brotherston, are sumptuous; the lighting and sound design, courtesy of Paule Constable and Paul Groothuis respectively, are spot on; and the overall result is a show so breathtakingly beautiful I could watch it again and again. 


My only complaint is that, with a running time of just two hours 10 minutes including an interval, it’s over too quickly (although, I’m also quite pleased to be able to get a slightly earlier bus home than is normal after a night at the theatre).

For further information, visit The Bristol Hippodrome website.

Article by:

Vivienne Kennedy

Vivienne Kennedy says she lives and works in Bristol but sleeps in Weston-super-Mare, which is where she’s actually lived pretty much all her life. During the day, she is Head of Broadmead BID (Business Improvement District), supporting retailers in Bristol Shopping Quarter. Away from work, she’s been reviewing theatre, music and art in Bristol for more than 12 years and is rarely happier than when watching a good show at the Hippodrome or Old Vic.