There were no first night nerves as Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake opened at Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre. First staged in 1995, this is the longest running ballet in London’s West End and has toured globally, winning more than 30 prestigious theatre awards.
Bourne’s choreography is an adaption of Tchaikovsky’s familiar classic. From the curtain rise the Dublin audience was enthralled by the story of the Prince who feels estranged from his mother and searches for love and affection outside the palace.
Bourne’s set is utter simplicity which allows the dancers take centre stage. The ballet music romps through the opening act as the prince is attended to by his maids and valets. There were surprising guffaws from the appreciative audience at the clever staging. The magnificent costumes recalled Hollywood of the 20’s and 30’s.
Despite his luxurious life, the Prince remains unhappy and visits a seedy night club. Tchaikovsky’s music is actually a perfect pairing for the decadent lifestyle the prince discovers.
The second act, justly the most celebrated, finds the Prince sitting glumly in a local park wondering if a flock of swans could be his imaginary friends. The swans are interpreted by semi- naked male dancers.
The erotic dance reaches a crescendo as the Prince finds himself drawn physically to the lead male dancer and the curtain comes down on a tender scene. However, the Prince’s happiness is short-lived as he returns to palace life and a tragic denouement.
It was fascinating to see such a young age profile at the enchanting performance and gratifying to witness the deserved (and very lengthy) standing ovation.
Runs 25 Feb- March 7.30 nightly. Matinees 27 February and 1 March at 2.30. Tickets 19-55 euro. Bookings www.ticketmaster.ie or tel 0818 719 377.
By Michael Collins