Once in a while the magic of theatre produces a 'perfect storm' - a faultless mix of acting, music, dance, setting, lighting and costume. Cinderella is just that. It isn't just down to the magic of theatre though but also the genius of Matthew Bourne.
The critically lauded and multi-award winning choreographer and director first dramatised Prokofiev's magical score in 1997. The innovative setting of war torn 40's London is revived in this the 70th anniversary year of the Blitz.
To the score, which was originally written during WW2, is woven a stunning design from Liverpool born Lez Brotherston evoking memories of the classic 40's films which Bourne clearly adores.
The golden age of the silver screen is apparent from the off. An 82 piece orchestra have recorded the score anew which blasts the auditorium in epic cinematic surround sound as classic Pathe footage from the war plays before the titles roll (literally) on Cinderella.
Trademark simple and fluid moves are crisply yet elegantly executed. The juxtaposition of the epic and the detailed, the ensemble and the duo are also very much his style and a style that suits the Empire stage.
A wicked Joan Crawford style stepmother (Etta Murfitt) controls our bespectacled Cinders (Kerry Biggin) and her cuckholded war wounded father (Neil Westmoreland). Egged on by the perfectly in tandem stepsisters and gaggle of stepbrothers (including one with an unexplained shoe fetish) stepmum denies Cinderella a night at the ball or the beautifully recreated Cafe de Paris.
Her male angel, no fairy godmother here, comes to the rescue though whisking her off where she meets the man she has danced with in her dreams. Not a prince perhaps but Harry is as close as you could get in the 40's - a dashing pilot complete with David Niven moustache.
Jumping between reality and dreams, or nightmares, the story is beautifully told through a mix of dance styles including traditional, 40's and contemporary. There are some stunning touches too including gas mask dogs, a spitfire ensemble number, a dreamy dance with a mannequin who becomes a man and a scene showing seedy London in a London Underground set of concentric circles. War ravaged London is both full of terror and elegance with just a tiny lighting change.
An ensemble of outstanding individuals make Bourne's Cinderella sublime and perfect.
- Peter Ruddick