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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

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.

 

Verdict
The return of Matthew Bourne’s idea-stuffed updating of La Sylphide

Production Information

Production
Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling
Venue
Theatre Royal
City
Glasgow
Starts
April 4, 2018
Ends
April 8, 2018, then touring
Press night
April 4, 2018
Composer
Herman Severin Lovenskiold
Director
Matthew Bourne, Etta Murfitt (revival)
Conductor
Paul Hoskins
Choreographer
Matthew Bourne
Set
Lez Brotherston
Lighting
Paule Constable
Sound
Paul Groothuis
Stage manager
Sheelagh McCabe
Production manager
Tim Palmer
Cast includes
Christopher Harrison, Sophie Martin, Bethany Kingsley-Garner, Araminta Wraith, Barnaby Rook Bishop
Producer
Scottish Ballet
Running time
1hr 35mins