19-23 May 2015
Reviewed by Siobhan Bridgwater
Last night we were at the Bristol Hippodrome to see Matthew Bourne’s dance thriller The Car Man, loosely based on Bizet’s opera Carmen.
“The familiar 19th Century Spanish cigarette factory becomes a greasy garage-diner in 1960’s America where the dreams and passions of a small-town are shattered by the arrival of a handsome stranger. Fuelled by heat and desire, the inhabitants are driven into an unstoppable spiral of greed, lust, betrayal and revenge.”
That was one crazy, high octane night of lust, fighting, murder and revenge. Matthew Bourne’s highly acclaimed dance extravaganza based around Bizet’s Carmen held no punches. As we crept into the theatre, 5 minutes late, after the opening number, the gent in the next seat to us, leaned forwarded and whispered “you’ve missed the willies”. Well, how disappointing, though I must say our attention was piqued. This was certainly not the night to bring the children.
This non-stop contemporary adult themed dance interpretation mixed, with an exceptional score that even an ignoramus like me can recognise in parts, plays out relentlessly amongst the most glorious backgrounds and stage sets. The evening literally flew by. There are no lines, just music and pure Latin passion. I didn’t know the story of Carmen, I’m not sure I know it any better now. I was a little confused at times although the main storyline is pretty straightforward. But there is just so much going on, on the stage at all times. It is hectic and gritty and sensual and shocking, in equal measure. The energy levels remain unbelievably high from start to finish. And the audience lapped it up.
I have yet to process what I personally felt about it. My head is still spinning. It is certainly the bravest production I have ever seen. I have just never witnessed a theatre show so raw, exposing human nature at its most sordid and cruel, twisted and dark. Fascinating for sure.
I would recommend you go see for yourself. It is an experience.
Tickets cost from £16.90 to £44.40 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man is at the Bristol Hippodrome until 23 May 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3012.
Bristol Hippodrome, St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol, BS1 4UZ | 0844 871 3012