Top positive review
58 people found this helpful
Minus one star for poor presentation.
on 7 February 2010
Anyone buying this set will probably do so with some foreknowledge of Matthew Bourne's productions. His Swan Lake is an ingenious and very freudian updating, with distinct homo-erotic overtones, of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet in which a handsome prince falls in love with a beautiful young woman who has been transformed by magical arts into a swan. In the Bourne version the prince is a neurotic and unhappy young fellow who has a difficult relationship with his indifferent and flighty mother, the swan figure that invades his fantasies has a nice pair of pecs and a six-pack, and the usual corp-de-ballet of young girls in tutus is replaced by some fit young guys in swan costumes. It's clever, even witty at times, but ultimately tragic and quite moving. The Nutcracker is rather further removed from the Tchaikovsky original in which a young girl is given a nutcracker doll for Christmas which morphs into a handsome youth who then whisks her off to a fantastic fairyland. In the Bourne version the tale concerns a group of downtrodden inmates of a repressive early 20th century orphanage who eventually find love and freedom although before this happens they too visit a fantastic world of sweets and knickerbocker glories. Carman, a sweatier and steamier affair altogether, is set to the music of Bizet's Carmen, and has noirish elements of movies like The Postman Always Rings Twice with a handsome and mysterious stranger drifting into town and stirring up the hormones of both sexes with fatal consequences. The quality of Bourne's creative imagination and the vigour of the dancing have a tendency to obscure the sometimes mundane choreography, but whether you're interested in classical ballet or modern dance, or neither in particular, I'm pretty sure you'll find this an enjoyable trio. It should be clear, however, from the foregoing that this is not the most appropriate ballet fare for grans to watch with their 8 year old granddaughters.
Presentation-wise, this looks quite a handsome set but in fact it's a lazy and indifferent production with no extras (apart from a brief interview with Bourne) and wretchedly thin background notes.There aren't even proper synopses of the plots with the result that there were occasional moments in the Nutcracker where I couldn't understand what was going on. And whilst two of the discs have artwork one of them does not. So 5 stars for the ballets, 3 for presentation, 4 stars overall. Highly recommended all the same.