Review: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, March 14

Review: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, March 14

by Tessa Hurst.

Whenever Matthew Bourne produces a ballet, you know that you are in for a real treat. It will be a totally new and different interpretation of a classic, a well-known story magically reimagined. Sleeping Beauty is no exception, a gothic love story that encompasses good versus evil, all with a hint of humour and the supernatural.

Count Lilac and Queen Eleanor, who have not been blessed with an heir, are presented with their daughter Aurora by Carabosse, the dark fairy. Count Lilac and his fairies bestow their gifts and protection to the new princess. Carabosse, unhappy with the lack of gratitude from the King and Queen places a curse on the princess, that she will prick her finger on a rose and be sent into an endless sleep. Count Lilac changes the curse so that Aurora will sleep for 100 years and be woken by the kiss of her true love.

When Aurora comes of age, she falls in love with Leo, the royal gamekeeper. Carabosse has died but her son Caradoc sets out to avenge his mother by fulfilling the curse. Carodoc succeeds and Aurora falls asleep for a hundred years. The ballet follows this journey to the present day to see Leo’s love prevail over evil.

The sets and costumes, designed by Lez Brotherston, are as much part of the story as the dancing, as they evolve and change through the performance with a few surprises along the way. The costumes are used cleverly to represent each era, from gothic dress, up to the modern day. 

Matthew Bourne’s choreography is stunning, his interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s score is a mix of traditional ballet with clever modern twists. He has an exceptional ability to express emotion through movement that is both mesmerising, and keeps the audience enthralled with unique attention to detail. Cordelia Braithwaite dances beautifully as Aurora. Stephen Murray, as Leo and Ben Brown, as Caradoc allow you to understand the need for revenge and the hope that love will prevail.

The final act builds the tension to the final twist and ends to very well-deserved rapturous applause from the audience but did they live ‘happily ever after……?’


  • Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty runs until the 18th March at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. Tickets are still available at


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Photos by Johan Persson.