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Review: The Sleeping Beauty – Birmingham Royal Ballet, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

It pays to get your invitations sorted properly. One moment you’re celebrating a bouncing new royal arrival, the next a grotesque evil fairy is pointing her crooked digit at your child summoning death for the infant.

It’s a remarkable over-reaction from Carabosse (Daria Stanciulescu), to be sure, but in this sumptuous Birmingham Royal Ballet feast, she makes the most marvellous entrance that all is very nearly forgiven.

This is indicative of a show where absolutely everything is dialled up to 11. The costumes are a sight to behold, with fulsome wigs, capes and trains that trail on the floor for weeks (and very nearly render one dancer a wee stumble), and a masquerade ball stuffed with storybook favourites topping the lot.

(Picture: Bill Cooper and Dasa Wharton)
(Picture: Bill Cooper and Dasa Wharton)

The Royal Ballet Sinfonia is heroically tight on this night; Tchaikovsky’s well-worn score is pin-sharp in the hands of conductor Paul Murphy, and the orchestra deliver like their lives depend on it.

On stage, there’s almost too much to gush over: the glorious synchronicity throughout, the hilarious cat dance which elicits an extra roar of approval, the swirling fog which slices off the dancers’ feet allowing them to almost float across the stage (and unceremoniously dumping smoke onto the orchestra).

(Picture: Bill Cooper and Dasa Wharton)
(Picture: Bill Cooper and Dasa Wharton)

But the last two acts belong to Yu Kurihara as Princess Aurora and Lachlan Monaghan’s Prince Florimund. The pair soar, particularly through their wedding (spoilers, sorry, they get on rather famously, you know) dances in the fourth act, and they absolutely ooze chemistry. If they don’t have an extraordinarily tight friendship outside of this show, the performance here is even more remarkable.

The Sleeping Beauty is an unashamedly faithful telling of the tale, but my word it’s a glorious affair. You really shouldn't miss it.

It's on at the Mayflower 9th and 10th February. For tickets, visit: www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/brb-sleeping-beauty-2024/

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