Theatre review: Cinderella at The Alhambra, Bradford ***

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IF we’d never enjoyed the delights of his beefed up Swan Lake, Matthew Bourne’s version of this fairytale might have seemed more impressive.

Unfortunately, coming as it did so soon after the international smash that made his name, it suffers for the comparison.

Not that it isn’t spectacular. This is another clever, funny, innovative slab of balletic stagecraft which is a genuine twist on a timeless masterpiece, all set against Prokofiev’s thunderous score.

The original scenario featuring Cinders, trapped by her uncaring step-family, remains. But the transformation doesn’t stem from ‘prince charming’ inviting everyone to a ball, instead Bourne shifts the action to war-torn London and recreates the tragic party at the Cafe de Paris, which was bombed by the Germans during the blitz.

The ‘prince’ of the piece is, in fact, a dashing RAF pilot while the fairy godmother is a male angel. Yes, this version comes with added camp.

There are some flaws here. The narrative can go a little wayward at points, particularly when the hero of the piece goes in search of Cinders across the smouldering capital. There are also some sections which are a little cringeworthy and unnecessary, one notable scene involves an underground station where men appear to be congregating for the purposes of illicit sexual encounters.

But they are exceptions, overall this remains a smart, sexy, sprinkling of magical dance from Matthew Bourne and one well worth sampling.

Rod McPhee

• March 8 to 12, The Alhambra, Morley Street, Bradford, £13 to £33, 7.30pm, Thu mat 2pm, Sat mat 2.30pm. Tel: 01274 432000.

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