I thought it was quite funny that just two weeks after Matthew Bourne’s reimagined Sleeping Beauty, I was off to see another version, but this time with “Acrobatics! Magic! and Light!” – or so the ads promised. Aurora, by the Theater of Magic, was booked for a week in Munich right around Christmas and boy, they chose their timing right, as the house was packed full of people who’d paid 50 euros a head to entertain themselves and their kids over the holidays. What was I in for?
As it turns out, it was a night of substandard acrobatics and dancing loosely held together by the Sleeping Beauty narrative and staffed entirely with second rate Russian performers. The moments of imagination were nearly all overwhelmed either by sloppy execution – women getting scarves wrapped wrong around them, non-synchronization when groups were performing together, plain old bad dancing – or stained by a general sort of cheapness and tawdriness of all the set dressings. And can we mention the fact that the fairies all looked like hookers? Since when are platform heels proper fairy attire?
We DID get people doing great flips off of trampolines; wolf-headed men somersaulting from spring-loaded stilt legs; a very nice number in which two hooker fairies spun from hoops over the stage; and a genuine attempt to make Carabosse sympathetic by showing all of the other fairies picking on her. The best bit was the attempt by various young men to awaken Aurora; one shot off a cannon; another (a male gymnast swinging on a single bar) summoned a giant wind; my favorite was an opera singer who did Papageno’s song from the Magic Flute while balancing on a giant ball. But … are there really so many people with so much half-baked talent and no one around to polish them into a good act, or maybe get some less polyester costumes for them? There was certainly a spectacle, but like the gimcrack fireworks shooting off when Carabosse lost her temper, it was a damp squib, with fizzle when it needed sizzle. Ah well, if nothing else, it killed two hours pretty well and thanks to my uncle I didn’t have to pay for the ticket.
(This review is for a matinee performance that took place on December 25th, 2012.)