Matthew Bourne's The Car Man

Last nights opening night of Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man at Bristol Hippodrome was buzzing with excitement. This revival of The Car Man, which first opened in 2000 winning a string of awards, promised to be a unique dance experience and the audience were clearly looking forward to it.

I was not disappointed. As we found our seats the curtains were already open and the dancers on stage, in the car repair lot in a town called Harmony. The story is loosely based on Bizet’s popular opera Carmen, and the score uses some of it’s original score alongside new composition by Terry Davies created especially for the piece. This means that some of the music is instantly recognisable and then given new depth as Matthew Bourne’s choreography and storytelling enrich the familiar music.

Set in a greasy garage diner in 1960’s America, a drifter is hired by the wife beating owner of the garage. This event leads to passion, love, tragedy and betrayal. The Car Man is definitely for an adult audience, I’m not going to be coy there’s  lots of sex, some blood and fantastic macabre imagery. Matthew Bourne is such a brilliant storyteller and the action is easy to follow, making The Car Man accessible for everyone. I was captivated by the choreography and truly taken out of myself and into the story .When the interval came I had to remember to stop holding my breath.

The choreography was amazing. I’m struggling not too just gush. I loved the big group pieces, the duets, the solos and everything in between. One of the dancers who stood out for me was Zizi Strallen in the role of Lana the abused garage owners wife. She had virtuosity, and clear passion, every movement spot on and every moment used to it’s maximum potential. I really enjoyed watching her dance. The other dancer I want to mention is Dominic North playing Angelo. His acting and dancing skills worked together brilliantly to convey the emotions of this weedy, bullied man who falls in love and is ultimately used and betrayed.

I’m not just recommending The Car Man, I’m insisting, this really is a special work and I’m so glad I had the chance to see it. It’s on at Bristol Hippodrome until May 23rd, and the continues it’s tour of the UK until the 9th of August. Visit this website for more details.

*Disclosure; I was provided with press tickets so that I could write this review.