Director/choreographer and visionary Matthew Bourne has brought his production of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty to the Lowry. Billed as 'A Gothic Romance' the tagline gives you the first clue that this might not be a traditional staging of the ballet.

This production is a stunning visual feast for the eyes and a tugger of heartstrings. Everything in it is beautifully thought out and lovingly created. The baby Aurora is one of the most entrancing puppets I have seen on stage and is cleverly manipulated to seem real.

The young couple Princess Aurora (Hannah Vassallo) and her gamekeeper lover Leo (Dominic North) are sheer perfection, both with their dancing and with the emotion they create. Aurora is protected by the King of the Fairies (Christopher Marney) but even he cannot protect her from the curse of Carabosse, the dark fairy, and her son Caradoc (both played by Ben Bruce). The battle between good and evil is remarkably played out between these two superbly skilled dancers.

It would seem unfair though to not mention the rest of the cast as they are all uniformly excellent, playing not only specific roles but also all the ensemble characters as well.

Bourne blends classical and modern ballet with immense skill and vision. Taking the story from late Victorian times through to modern day provides a wonderful twist to the plot and Lez Brotherston's spectacular costumes and sets are as evocative as the dancing itself.

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty is a graceful, glamorous and gorgeous gothic love affair and will, quite rightly, cause many people to fall for ballet. This show is a once in a lifetime treat!

- Helen Jones