Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake Review

Hull New Theatre – until 27th April 2019

Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams


I was lost at the Hull New Theatre, lost in the beauty and spectacle of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, and now I am lost for words and feeling inadequate, how do I review such a wonderful experience?

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is a retelling like no other, with male swans and a Prince who is struggling with life and his sexuality. It was originally created in 1995, but this revival is fresh and relevant.

Our hero the Prince (Liam Mower) is unhappy with life and the coldness of his mother the Queen (Nicole Kabera) adds to his despair, things come to such a pitch that he decides to commit suicide and it is when he goes to the lake that the swans appear.

From start to finish this production is packed with detail, always something happening slightly off from the main action – where to look? Watch the ballet at the theatre and miss what is happening in the Royal Box; watch the dancing at the ball and suddenly spot that something is happening on the balcony. Full of quirkiness and life and with a nod to the current preoccupation with “fame” in the shape of the Girlfriend (Katrina Lyndon) and the paparazzi. It has humour but so much darkness – pulling at your emotions. Lez Brotherston’s set and costume designs are magnificent and of course there is Tchaikovsky’s soaring music but it is the dancing that is riveting from start to finish.

Liam Mower’s Prince is sublime, his every body movement shows how he is feeling – a simple shrug or a head movement. His dancing is breathtaking and so elegant but it is in the duets with the Swan (Max Westwell) that I held my breath, such beauty and vulnerability, it made me cry.

Max Westwell is captivating as The Swan/Stranger, his performance at the ball as the Stranger is mesmerising, a dark presence but full of charisma. His Swan broke my heart in the finale, how I wanted a different ending.

Katrina Lyndon adds a wonderful touch of humour as the Girlfriend, whilst Nicole Kabera adds an imperiousness and coldness to her role as the Queen.

As to those Swans, it was impossible to take your eyes off them as they swirled and stamped and hissed across the stage. Portraying viciousness in the extreme, these were not swans you would want to come across. They moved as one, yet seemed to have their own characters, the stuff of nightmares.

The finale was magnificent, so incredibly emotional.

As to the standing ovation, we would have still been there cheering for some considerable time had the lights not gone up.

This is a must see – food for the soul, an experience like no other. Me – I’m back on Saturday night to see it again!