Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at Milton Keynes Theatre | A review

Matthew Bourne’s adaptation of the famous Swan Lake has returned to Milton Keynes theatre; captivating audiences of all ages.

This modern interpretation performed by Matthew Bourne’s ballet company, New Adventures is nothing short of genius.

The audience is introduced to the young and impressionable prince who is struggling with his identify and the world he was born into. Haunted by reoccurring nightmares he desperately craves his mother’s touch of reassurance; but her cold, standoffish disposition shuns him, time and time again. We watch him fall victim to his mental illness and his hallucinations begin to become overbearing.

James Lovell, who plays the Prince does a great job of digging deep into his character’s emotions and displaying them in a way that is easy for the audience to emphasise with. There were times, particularly in scene 4, that made me want to reach out and comfort him.

“I think the piece moves people because it has a message about looking for acceptance; but it also moves people because it’s about loss as well, and it’s about people that you’ve lost.
I feel those themes are very universal and very much things that touch all of us. It’s a very human piece and global – both in its message and in the way that it brings us all together.”


When you’re not being blown away by the acting and choreography alone; the sets and costumes created by award winning designer Lez Brotherston steal the show. The costumes boast exceptional attention to detail and the use of colour is incredibly well considered. An example of this is the Royal ball scene. The queen is the only character wearing a bold blood red dress amongst a sea of black costumes.

Paulie Constable, the lighting designer hadn’t previously seen this adaption before, the film nor production which is evident in her completely original take on the lighting design. Her fresh pair of eyes brought an exciting newness to the show that had not been explored before.

What I perhaps loved most about Matthew Bourne’s adaptation, was the element of humour he brought, through the girlfriend’s character. It was only slight, but it massively impactful. It had the entire audience chuckling which was a very refreshing experience.

The biggest change from the original production of Swan Lake was the decision to make the swans male. This was one of the things that I was most intrigued about, because it can be interpreted in so many different ways. I saw it as an opportunity to inspire young boys and ignite a new found love for the theatre. Not to mention a new found respect for the art form that is ballet.

I cannot recommend this production enough. I was in complete ore from start to finish. The show is now touring around the UK, but you can grab tickets via the ATG website HERE 

Also be sure to check out what’s on at the Milton Keynes Theatre HERE

A big thank you to MK Theatre for inviting me along to review the show!

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