Review: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella

By Richard Lutz.

Matthew Bourne likes to take old fashioned ballets and operas, rip them from their moorings and fling them into new settings.

He does this for Cinderella – now playing at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

He takes the old fashioned fairy tale and its original Sergei Prokofiev music and lands it squarely in wartime London with the Blitz, the chaos and the grim black white and grey colours that younger generations associate with that period.

On top of that, he adds hints of bigtime stiff upper lip movies from the era – Brief Encounter, Waterloo Bridge and A Matter of Life and Death.

And for those that came just for the ballet spectacle, he infuses the tale with glittering costumes to offset the grimness of the times and Cinderella’s dire life.

There are moments of styled comedy- the evil stepmother exudes sex and haute couture style at the same time- and there is foot fetishism, gay love and cute double entendres to give the old time tale a modern jolt.

But it never roars into second gear unlike his earlier take on Carmen when he shunted the flamboyant opera into the TexMex southwest of the States.

Prokofiev’s music is bland. And no characters really seem to evolve. Maybe Cinderella should have stayed in Ruritania with all the gold braid and ruffled dresses after all.

What did kick into gear, though, was a five minute piece by dancers from Walsall College. Choreographed by 19 year old Ruth Seager, it jumped off the stage. Maybe Matthew Bourne should have been watching from the wings at this Black Country curtain raiser to get the old electricity moving.

+Cinderella is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday.