The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, Petipa, Monica Mason/Christopher Newton, Lauren Cuthbertson, Sergei Polunin
Sumptuous. This glorious ballet, with stunning choreography and soaring Tchaikovsky score, was in 1890, a theatrical event which showed off the grand, Russian, Imperial style. It is also the Royal Ballet’s signature piece. It has land-marked its history from its inauguration at Covent Garden after the war through to its closure for refurbishment, when Darcey Bussell as the lilac fairy put the house to sleep for two years. And in the right season, Christmas, where the spirit of renewal and thanksgiving is uppermost, it is a magical, festive treat. The overall look for this current 'Beauty' is striking, in its recreation of Oliver Messel’s 1946 designs. Back then the paucity of material necessitated the mother of invention, so that the gentlemen’s cuffs were made out of paper doilies. Now its opulence, vibrant colour and grand style throws into relief the grey world of tightened belts and cut corners, and we are the better for it. Under the direction of Monica Mason and Christopher Newton this production is a homage to its 1946 lineage. Lauren Cuthbertson as Princess Aurora has a great technique with long, languorous limbs. She is also a good actress. She excelled in the Grand Pas of Act 111 with Sergei Polunin, and there is a real sense of connection and musicality between them. Polunin, touted as the next Nureyev, is stunning to watch: huge jumps, whose crisp, clean turns are thrilling. The confection of the story is lightly spun, so story book characters such as puss in boots, red riding hood, bluebeard line up as wedding guests alongside the seasons and other royal dignitaries, as we see a handsome prince kiss and reawaken a cursed princess. Yet its reality lies in a noble sentiment in which goodness rather than triumphs, endures.....We are in an allegorical world........a world, like the angels, which dances on a pin……..