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Subject: "AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99" Archived thread - Read only
 
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alison

21-10-99, 01:17 PM (GMT)
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"AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
 
   There was a packed house to welcome Adventures in Motion Pictures' Swan Lake to the New Victoria Theatre in Woking on Monday night, and to judge by audience reaction the production has lost none of its ability to captivate.

So much has already been written about this production that I won't bother repeating it, but merely give my thoughts on the night's performance. However, since circumstances unfortunately prevented me from getting hold of a programme, I have to assume that the casting is as advertised on the AMP website, and apologise in advance to any dancers who I may mis-identify.

Simon Cooper has grown well into the dual role since I last saw him in one of his earliest performances in London: as the leather-clad Stranger in Act III he does not quite have the same magnetism as his younger brother, but as the Swan his stronger physique gives him an edge in the portrayal of a powerful, and potentially lethal, bird. Certainly his leaps in the second and third acts just ate up the (slightly cramped) stage.

Tom Ward's young, vulnerable Prince is rather closer to the Ben Wright interpretation than to Scott Ambler's original, but I found myself rather missing the Ambler version, as his greater maturity lent more poignancy to the role, his extra years adding to the sense of a life withering away in banal, soul-destroying royal duties.

The dancer portraying the Prince's embarrassing girlfriend added a few nice touches of her own to the role, but on the whole I found her a little *too* awful to be believable - a touch of the "less is more" school of acting may be needed here - and there seemed to be less rapport than normal during her pas de deux with the Prince. (Incidentally, the box of Maltesers through which she used to scoff her way during the Royal Gala Performance, to the disapproval of everyone around her, has now become a (very noisy) bag of what looked like Liquorice Allsorts - a shame that a couple of members of the audience couldn't take the hint, and instead started noisily eating from bags during one of the quietest and most moving moments of Act II!)

Isobel Mortimer as the Queen was less cold than Fiona Chadwick, seeming several times to be on the verge of reaching out emotionally to her son, only to draw back into her stiff-upper-lip "royal" mode.

All in all, this performance took rather longer than usual to cast its spell on me. This may have been due to the late start (8 pm is really a little late for a performance of this length, even though about 10 minutes seem to have been chopped off the running time since the last London season), tiredness, the very high ambient light levels in the auditorium, or merely familiarity breeding contempt (this *was* after all my tenth viewing of the production in one form or other), but I was less mesmerised than usual by the swans in the second act, and it was not until the second half that I really felt involved with it.

It does also seem to me that some of the nuances have been lost from this production over the years, and other subtleties have been broadened to such an extent that they are now over-stressed. One example is the point where the Prince first dances with the swans in Act II, where he used originally to be awkward and faltering, later becoming more confident as he began to form more of a rapport with the birds. Now, however, he is dancing identically with the Swan from the outset, and with equal confidence, and this makes it less believable.

However, these quibbles aside, it still makes for a highly entertaining and moving evening, and the Woking audience was as appreciative and spellbound as all the others I have seen.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99 Anneliese 21-10-99 1
     RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99 Anneliese 22-10-99 2
         RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99 alison 25-10-99 3
             RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99 Anneliese 25-10-99 4
         RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99 alison 28-10-99 5
             RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99 ANneliese 28-10-99 6
  RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99 berrie 30-10-99 7
     RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99 Anneliese 31-10-99 8

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Anneliese

21-10-99, 02:05 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
In response to message #0
 
   I finally got round to watching the video last week (keeping Baby Tim's eyes averted from the screen!). I was very impressed with the concept, the choreography, the designs and the dancing. The best bit for me was the Swan's variation following the little swans - a lovely piece. I found the plot a bit obscure in Act III - without programme notes to explain what Mathew Bourne was trying to get across I just wasn't sure how to read it. I'm only sorry I wasn't able to get to Woking to see it live - my sister was totally entranced, and so was the rest of the audience from what she told me last night. Obviously a lot of "regulars" were there.

The male swans I found utterly convincing - they really LOOKED and MOVED like swans. Fiona Chadwick was very impressive, as was Scott Ambler - real dance-actors. Perhaps I'll make it to the theatre when they next tour?


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Anneliese

22-10-99, 06:43 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
In response to message #1
 
   A plea from me & my sister - she told me that the programme notes were totally unhelpful. Can anyone here enlighten us as to what was going on in the last half of the ballet?


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alison

25-10-99, 01:15 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
In response to message #2
 
   You don't mean they actually had *programme notes*?! That's a first - I've never known them put a synopsis in. The video actually has a synopsis, but it doesn't bear much resemblance to the story as *I* understood it. I may try and summarise for you later - running out of time here - but I always find that the more you try and pin this production down to solid facts, the more it tends to slip out from between your fingers (excuse the mixed metaphors here, but I'm sure you know what I mean).

Any chance of you getting up to High Wycombe to see it (I don't think it's been there yet)?. If you can't, there's always London in the spring - it really does come over much better live.


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Anneliese

25-10-99, 06:37 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
In response to message #3
 
   My sister said that the only programme notes were about Tchaikovsky - and that it was one of the few times she'd felt the need of notes! High Wycombe a bit of a trek.... we'll have to see!


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alison

28-10-99, 01:18 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
In response to message #2
 
   Well, according to the blurb accompanying the video, the Stranger in the third act is the son of von Rothbart (aka the Press Secretary, in case you hadn't realised), and v.R. is plotting to marry son off to the Queen. Their forthcoming marriage is announced during the ball, which (I think) is why the Prince goes mad with the gun. So it's presumably all a plot to get the Prince out of the way and the Son on the throne.

Then in the fourth act the Prince gets some medical treatment (I've always assumed it was a lobotomy or something) from a doctor who happens to look very much like v.R. Drugged up to the eyeballs (a loose translation of the German, there!), he has bad dreams about performing Royal duties. Then the Swan arrives and shows him the way to a better, more peaceful world. In the epilogue, the Queen arrives to find the Prince presumably having committed suicide.

That's roughly what it says in the video, but if you ask me it's a load of old cobblers!

As far as I'm concerned, in the third act the Prince is feeling totally confused/betrayed at the actions of the Stranger, whom he perceives as the Swan, but who suddenly seems to have turned against him, and of course there are all these feelings of jealousy and such towards the Queen, and all this pushes him over the edge.

Whether the second part of the fourth act is real or imagined I can never be quite sure, but my interpretation is that the other swans have turned on the Swan as he's become a threat to them, and they kill him and the Prince dies of a broken heart or something of that ilk. But as I think I said, the more you try and pin the story down, the more it tends to vanish into thin air!


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ANneliese

28-10-99, 09:18 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
In response to message #5
 
   Thanks! No, I didn't get all that at all - I'll pass it on to my sister and watch the video again!


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berrie

30-10-99, 05:02 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
In response to message #0
 
   Well, I went on the Tuesday night and was absolutely bowled over by the whole production - but I have to say the story as outlined by Alison is wholly news to me and will be to the person I went with! I didn't get any of that stuff, particularly the bit about him being the son of old misery guts. The programme let us down there - or did it? In some ways it was better to make up my own mind. The orchestra was marvellous, incidentally, and should be congratulated.Furthermore, Alan Vincent, of whom I have never heard, was mesmerising - particualrly in the second act. From the moment he appeared on the stage EVERYONE in the auditorium wanted to take him home. I was near the front, admittedly, and I do wonder if the fine facial details would have been lost up in the gods. But what will stick in my mind was the sheer strength of the choreography - these were powerful and thrilling birds. I would have gone again if it had been at all possible - and I don't think I want to see the traditional version again. Anyone who has stood in front of an angry swan, as I have, will have recognised what was going on.And as a professional musician and general cynic, I have to say that I can't remember the last time any performance of anything has moved me to tears at the end. I loved it!


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Anneliese

31-10-99, 05:01 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: AMP Swan Lake, Woking 18/10/99"
In response to message #7
 
   Actually, she cries every time at "Traviata", but apart from that it's true, she IS an old cynic!


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