Ce site Web a des limites de navigation. Il est recommandé d'utiliser un navigateur comme Edge, Chrome, Safari ou Firefox.

Army Dreamers

Tonight's gripping episode sees Matthew Bourne, with a restaging by Etta Murfitt, channeling all of the very best 1940's cinema classics, from Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death, via Hitchcock, David Lean and American silent movie iconography; as well as the more knockabout elements of vaudeville and slapstick. This is no twee fairytale, but rather, a meshing of historical fact steeped in survival as much as lyrical romanticism. For context, the production is bookended by plummy, RP voiced Pathe newsreels showing the devastation of war.

Performance

New Adventures: “Matthew Bourne's Cinderella”

Place

Kings Theatre, Glasgow, Scotland, June 12, 2018

Words

Lorna Irvine

Andrew Monaghan and Ashley Shaw in “Matthew Bourne's Cinderella.” Photograph by Johan Persson

subscribe to the latest in dance


“Uncommonly intelligent, substantial coverage.”

  • Weekly articles from the world of dance
  • Wide diversity of reviews, interviews, articles & more
  • Support for quality art journalism

Already a paid subscriber? Login

It's the early '40s. London is on the cusp of the Second World War. Sirens sound out, search lights are everywhere. Yet, one family remains stoical in the face of adversity. The ever wonderful Ashley Shaw's Cinders is not a passive maid, but rather, a strong-willed and bookish schoolgirl who finds agency in slipping into a pair of glamorous silver shoes in much a similar way as Victoria Page, the Moira Shearer character in The Red Shoes—the shoes 'find her,' as much as she them. She's a glorious creation, and—typically Bourne—lustily parodying her glam, man-eating stepmother Sybil (an imperious, hilarious Anjali Mehra, part Joan Crawford, part Isabella Blow) in fur and sexy heels as she waltzes suggestively with a shop dummy (another typically Bourne touch too, reminiscent of his original “Nutcracker!” ) imagining him as a real man. She also tends to her wheelchair-bound father Robert (Alan Vincent)—the sole carer, as evinced in their sweet scenes together, as the rest of the family seem to regard him as an inconvenience.

Indeed, it's Shaw's Ginger Rogers—homaging solos that are the first suggestion of Cinders' rich inner life—even as London crumbles, she swoops, high kicks and swoons to Prokofiev's powerful score. In her dowdy grey clothes, she is wilful and stubborn, more than a match for her horrible step-sisters who seem as charmless and misguided as their mother. And the step brothers range from shy and romantic, to creepy foot fetishist, in some darkly comedic sequences.

There is a charming jitterbug / lindyhop scene, as the whole ensemble springs drunkenly to life, and much fun to be had in the now Grace Kellyesque Cinderella's macho lattice-work of admirers—five men form an disorderly chain at her back. Even a greasy cabaret singer does a little soft shoe shuffle in order to catch her eye. An assembly line of dancers is mocking the motion of the munitions factory, finding joy before the bomb drops. Soldiers kiss their girls, and strangers grope each other in the dark. There's the first blush of young gay romance too.

But, as evinced by Lez Brotherston's wildly inventive and stunning set design, times are desperate. Only the winding clock isn't riven by destruction—a symbol of time running out. There are sex workers strutting in flamenco flirtations, and gangs of priapic spivs and thugs with dubious limps patrol along the underground station. Dominic North's dashing suitor Harry (very Michael Redgrave with his little moustache and gentlemanly disposition) is a shell-shocked fighter pilot who barely scrapes through his courtship with Cinders, making their tender, tempestuous first movements together all the more poignant. Battersea is twinkly, especially as the bombs illuminate it. A ghostly Café De Paris, strewn with dead bodies, is momentarily brought back to life by Liam Mower's mutable, sexy Angel—a leaping, bouncing figure who is at once Fairy Godfather and Angel of Death, an ever-present symbol of the beauty of youth, and mortality. His arms mimic the clock hands eroding time.

And even if it takes a while to settle into the narrative ballet proper, and the ballroom scenes are just a shade too long, it's a gorgeously staged show which is most effective when contemplating the humanity trapped underneath the rubble, underneath the stars of old London town. It's dreamy, contemplative and life-affirming, as well as playful.

And now, here's a word from our sponsors . . .

Lorna Irvine


Based in Glasgow, Lorna was delightfully corrupted by the work of Michael Clark in her early teens, and has never looked back. Passionate about dance, music, and theatre she writes regularly for the List, Across the Arts and Exeunt. She also wrote on dance, drama and whatever particular obsession she had that week for the Shimmy, the Skinny and TLG and has contributed to Mslexia, TYCI and the Vile Blog.

comments

Featured

A Golden Gift
REVIEWS | Karen Greenspan

A Golden Gift

As Belgian choreographer and dancer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker approached her sixtieth birthday in 2019, she decided to gift herself a solo to the music of one of her favorite partners—Johann Sebastian Bach.

Plus
Acts of Defiance
REVIEWS | Victoria Looseleaf

Acts of Defiance

One would think that a dance inspired by the events of the January 6 insurrection—yes, a dance!—would not be the ideal stuff of theater, but the eight members of Laurie Sefton Creates (formerly Clairobscur Dance Company), succeeded in giving life to Sefton’s premiere “Herd. Person?”, while the dance, itself, was occasionally problematic.

Plus
A Danced Legacy
REVIEWS | Cecilia Whalen

A Danced Legacy

A man stands on a dark box facing sideways. He gently shifts his weight from heels to toes, rocking forward and backward. His gaze remains front, but his body never lands anywhere. He is in constant motion: neither here nor there, caught somewhere in between. 

Plus
Questions that Remain
REVIEWS | Phoebe Roberts

Questions that Remain

To begin her creative process, the legendary German choreographer Pina Bausch often asked her dancers questions. These questions—and further, the thoughts and deeper rumblings they provoked in the dancers—then formed the basis for many of her pieces. 

Plus
Good Subscription Agency