dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling review at Theatre Royal, Glasgow – ‘joyous and ebullient’

Scottish Ballet's production of Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling at Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Photo: Andy Ross Scottish Ballet's production of Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling at Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Photo: Andy Ross
by -

Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling – his updating of La Sylphide to near contemporary Glasgow – is a joyous romp. He floods the stage with action.

The heart of groom-to-be James is captured by an elfin Sylph while he’s lying in a urinal, off his head on drugs, at his own engagement party.

Christopher Harrison’s James catches the impetuous recklessness of youth about to settle down, while his human pals – among them Araminta Wraith as his drug-dealing ex Madge, Bethany Kingsley-Garner as fiancee Effie and Barnaby Rook Bishop as her ex, Gurn – are all given big ebullient characters, with costumes by Lez Brotherston to match.

This is so much more than just a good yarn. Bourne’s choreography both engages with the music and adds to the characters and their relationships. It perhaps overwhelms the score in the first half’s most uncouth moments, but that is balanced by his command of minutiae for Sophie Martin’s Sylph.

Martin is both charming and convincing. Her angularity and sparrow-like poise speaks of another world. In Act II, when she entices James off to the realm of the Sylphs – given a convincing reality by the corps de ballet – that world is made to seem both threatening and under threat from the intimacy between the Sylph and James.

It is in this conflict and interchange between James’ society gone feral and the natural, mystical fairy domain that the ballet’s own heart lies.

While some elements of Brotherston’s set and costumes, and some of the stage business, could do with a minor update, James’ failure to learn as he attempts to bring the Sylph back to the human world remains an enduring theme.

 

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
The return of Matthew Bourne’s idea-stuffed updating of La Sylphide
^