Sir Peter Wright’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ at the Mayflower was beautiful. À la Jane Austen, if I had liked it less I might have more to say about it. Beautiful really is the only word for it. The dancers moved effortlessly through the story, the costuming and set were superb, and the romance of the story was tender and truly believable. The orchestra were impeccable and the opportunity to appreciate the music alone is always well received before the curtain goes up. Watching this production, it’s not hard to realise why so many little girls want to become ballerinas.
Birmingham Royal Ballet put on ballets with a capital B, sticking to the traditions, designs, and choreography that gave this Sleeping Beauty the same majesty and simple grandeur of its 1890 world premiere. The costumes were stunning, detailed in sequins which caught the light in a way that made me catch my breath on multiple occasions. Mark Jonathan’s lighting was also noteworthy, particularly one moment at the end of Act III when the light of the dawn comes from around the corner, lighting up the theatre beyond the stage, which was almost overwhelmingly beautiful and caused audible gasps from some audience members.
The set was perfect in its simplicity. The moving elements were minimal and all the more impactful for it. The continuous presence of the monolith around which the scenery changed was a beautiful touch and grounded the story. The cascading forest was probably the most gorgeous moment I have ever seen on the Mayflower stage, with the clever use of the smoke machine being a worthy runner up. The decision to use the same theatre magic as would have been available at the very first performance of this ballet added to its classical charm.
It is always a pleasure to spend an evening lost in the fantasy of a Birmingham Royal Ballet production.