Highland Fling (4 stars)

One the oldest romatic ballets given modern tartan twist by Matthew Bourne and the Scottish National Ballet

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Highland Fling

It's a coup for Scottish Ballet to be the first company to perform a full-length Matthew Bourne piece outside his New Adventures troupe. But no doubt there's pride for the choreographer too, in having his urban-fantasy Glasgow vision embraced by Scotland's national ballet. Indeed, Bourne's trademark Gothic kitsch blends perfectly with a tartan twist: blood red tartan walls and garish acid shades belie the ballet's original production date of 1994, a time when it was acceptable to wear a green tartan suit in public.

Highland Fling updates 19th century ballet La Sylphide to modern Glasgow. On their wedding night, James (Christopher Harrison) is tempted away from his bride and into an enchanted forest by a Sylph (Sophie Martin). Bourne's choreography draws not only on classical ballet but the storytelling body language of slapstick and mime, bringing his characters spinning off the stage and into our hearts.

Flashes of Highland dance appear in bars (male legs standing in for swords), while this version of a fairytale forest is a suburban wasteland peopled by impish fairy-winged Goths who pump their hearts feverishly at James as he dances with his Sylph. But there's an ugly twist to James' fantasy escape, and the arch melodrama of all that has gone before makes the gruesome climax all the more poignant. In a ballet that will appeal to lovers and non-lovers of the form alike, Bourne gives us a true fairytale in all its dark beauty.

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 22–Sat 25

Scottish Ballet: Highland Fling

Matthew Bourne's ballet inspired by La Sylphide, first performed in 1994, returns for a new Scottish tour. We follow the misfortunes of James, a young Scotsman whose taste for the wilder side of life brings him into the company of a strange and beautiful gothic fairy.

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