Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at The Bristol Hippodrome - Bristol Theatre Review

Posted on: 2019-03-13

Our rating:

This translation of Swan Lake is a delight to watch; with sumptuous costumes, lavish looking sets and a few humorous moments thrown in to counteract the darkness of the tragic ending, it has the audience gripped from start to finish.


Swan Lake is a story that most people will be familiar with, it is the traditional tale of unrequited love that has become one of the best loved ballets of all time. Images of white tutu clad girls dancing across the stage en pointe to Tchaikovsky’s magical score spring to mind, but if this is what anyone expects from the production showing at Bristol Hippodrome until 16th March then they are in for a surprise.

**Swan Lake at The Bristol Hippodrome until 16th March 2019 - Get tickets here**

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at The Bristol Hippodrome

Matthew Bourne’s innovative and controversial adaptation originally hit the stage on 1995 and changed the face of ballet. In Bourne’s take on the classic story the delicate female swans are replaced by a strong and menacing male ensemble, which sets the scene for the homoerotic switch to the tale that was shocking almost quarter of a century ago but today seems just as it should be.

The company move us from royal palace to asylum, via beautiful parks and seedy nightclubs as they tell the story of a repressed and unhappy prince who is rejected by his cold unfeeling mother and who is being smothered by the formality and constraints of life within the royal court. His on-off girlfriend is wholly unsuitable and he is starting to find life a little overwhelming. The prince encounters the Swan, though not sure whether this is real or a figment of his imagination he falls in love, only to find himself cruelly rejected when the Swan’s human version arrives on the scene. A heart-breaking story that descends into tragedy during the final act.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at The Bristol Hippodrome

As expected from such a high-quality company all the dancers were superb, the ensemble was full of energy and character and the swans were suitably dark and brooding. The principals brought us a charming and technically accomplished prince, a mother who was the personification of the ice queen, whose lack of feeling towards her son leads him down the road to disaster and a fantastically fun if awkward and uncouth girlfriend. The undoubted star of the show though is the intense and bewitching Swan, who from his first entrance is utterly captivating.

This translation of Swan Lake is a delight to watch; with sumptuous costumes, lavish looking sets and a few humorous moments thrown in to counteract the darkness of the tragic ending, it has the audience gripped from start to finish. This is more than just ballet, drawing in joyful elements from jazz dance, passionate steps from tango and a fair bit of modern interpretive dance there is something for everyone.

Receiving a standing ovation last night, and sure to dazzles the crowds throughout its run, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is a must-see production.

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Article by:

Sarah-Jane Howard

Sarah-Jane is an aficionado of film, theatre, culture and the arts. A voracious reader and avid crafter, she can be found volunteering her face painting talents at Bristol Zoo when she's not cementing her reputation as Coalpit Heath’s cake maker extraordinaire. Known to have an opinion on everything she’s never happier than when sharing these with the good folk of Bristol!