THE traditional image of the beautiful white swan, in a pristine tutu, is probably the most well-known in all of classical ballet.

So it was a bold move by Matthew Bourne in 1995 when he decided to turn the traditional story on its head and introduce the idea of a male swan.

Yet something about this modern take on a love story makes complete sense and its success has been such that the production is still enchanting audiences some 23 years later - as a standing ovation on opening night at Southampton's Mayflower Theatre can testify.

Brilliant characterisation lends delightful humour to this tragic tale of the tormented prince who falls in love with a swan.

Classical ballet is blended with influences from other dance styles, all executed by the company with some of the most extreme precision I have seen. Yet the choreography also manages to fit perfectly to Tchaikovsky's soaring score. I'm not entirely sure what the composer would have made of the adaptation, but it does mean a new audience is being introduced to this captivating music.

The entire production is faultless, but the highlight is, without a doubt, the absolutely mesmerising male swans - beautifully haunting, they draw you in and leave you wanting more.

Stunning performances by Dominic North as The Prince and Max Westwell as The Swan - I could watch it again and again.