Matthew Bourne’s CINDERELLA | London, New Wimbledon Theatre

Director and choreographer (Sir; OBE) Matthew Bourne first transported Prokofiev’s 1946 ballet to 1941 Blitzkrieg London in 1997. Since then it enjoyed a major revival in 2010, but this is a whole new production, now touring internationally. It’s not just ballet, it’s theatre; and Bourne draws on a huge range of dance styles to tell his adult fairytale.

There’s no fairy godmother, there’s an angel with slick white hair (Liam Mower) who dances like an extra-flamboyant evil genius from Swan Lake: neither good nor bad; a slave to time yet master of it; full in the knowledge of the horrors of the blitz, yet resigned to it. Leading Cinderella (Ashley Shaw) backwards and forwards through time on the evening London’s Café de Paris is devastated by bombing, he manages to bring her and pilot Harry (Will Bozier) together as star-crossed lovers.

After Cinderella and Harry meet at the Café de Paris, they enjoy a post-coital dance in the bedroom of Harry’s rundown apartment, bathed in orange light: this is one of many moments that tells us we are not watching a children’s show. On the other hand, quite why the stepmother (Madelaine Brennan) is so evil — literally trying to murder Cinderella and others — is not made clear.

The designs (Lez Brotherston) are stunning, and make this tour look like the West End in a way few productions manage. The complete destruction of London in Act 2 is a gobsmacking coup de théâtre. But even without all this, the visual splendour comes from the dance and a remarkable ensemble (two casts in rotation). Two decades old the production may be, but everything about it feels startlingly fresh. A must-see.

Cinderella misplaces a shoe for the last time in Wimbledon on Saturday 5 May 2018. Tickets from £15.

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