Review: Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake****

at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

At its 1995 premiere, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake had ballet traditionalists crying into their tutus.

With its all-male swans and irreverent portrayal of a Royal Family embroiled in scandal, it was a production which some hoped would enjoy 15 minutes of fame and quietly disappear. It didn't.

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Instead it became a massive hit and 15 years on it looks as fresh as it did on the first night. Using Tchaikovsky's original score, Bourne weaves a tale of love, loneliness and longing and with the production enlivened by a liberal injection of comedy and a hint of Oedipal complex thrown in for good measure, it's a joy from start to finish.

The Prince, bored by his Groundhog Day existence of politely waving at crowds and a mother desperate to keep him at arm's length, seeks solace in a woman who knows how to let her hair down, but who sadly is an embarrassment at official functions, failing to toe the royal party line.

Maddy Brennan dances the Girlfriend to perfection, the rough diamond to the Queen's carbon-hard exterior. Every scene, from the night at the hammed-up ballet to the sleazy back street boozer is a gem polished to perfection.

While the number of laughs in the production is what surprises new audiences, Bourne isn't a sell out to comedy. Swan Lake is also a thing of beauty. His cast of all-male swans, dancing in the now iconic feathered leggings, are simply stunning and Richard Windsor's memorising portrayal as head swan is proof that ballet's not just for girls.

Funny, poignant and breathtaking Swan Lake is a production everyone should see at least once.

To Apr 3.

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