The Car Man

Monday, 18 September, 2000

This new show, subtitled "An Auto-Erotic Thriller", certainly lives up to all expectations with a fresh new reinterpretation of Bizet's 'Carmen' that is both hot and pulsating. The show has new orchestrations and does not follow the scenario of the famous opera but tells its own story inspired by classic Hollywood Film Noir movies and the New Wave European cinema of the 1960s.

The action takes place in a car body shop in an Italian/American community in the town of Harmony, USA. When Luca, an attractive drifter comes to town the community welcome him, but he is soon to destroy them as he seduces Lana, the wife of the garage owner and also seduces Angelo, the boyfriend of Lana's sister. When Lana's husband finds out about the affair Luca murders him while being egged on by Lana and they frame Angelo for the killing. Angelo goes to prison and then escapes (after being sodomised by the prison warden) and seeks revenge.

This show will appeal to all age groups over 16 as Bourne has again managed to blend another famous classical work into an entertainment that will appeal to people who don't normally like opera or ballet!! Although, to be fair, you cannot call this a ballet , many of the dancing moves are classical ballet, and just as many are not, dance is the best description, dance that is very interesting, modern and fresh. There is plenty of passion and lusty dancing, and the energy is high. The choreography is a little repetitive, but there is so much happening on stage it does not matter too much.

Different cast members play the leads at various performances. On the night I saw the show Luca was played competently by Alan Vincent, although he was not that hunky! Saranne Curtin was convincing as Lana, so to was Ewan Wardrop as wimpy Angelo. In fact, the whole company gave a faultless and solid performance.

The show has received mixed reviews from the popular press……..ANNE SACKS for THE EVENING STANDARD says the show is a "dark, psychological thriller that is funny, tense, lively and bold". ISMENE BROWN for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, " The Car Man falls between stools, an uneasy hybrid of dance and drama. It hasn't the high-romantic punch of the dramas that it feeds off, nor the poetic imagination or affectionate satire of Bourne's Swan Lake and Cinderella. Which is why people will leave feeling that something was lacking." JENNY GILBERT for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Sweaty brows and sultry hips are the biz." THE DAILY EXPRESS says, "Proving that dance isn't all tights and tutus, 'The Car Man' shunts ballet into the new century. A humping, pumping, thumping fat hit." DEBRA CRAINE for THE TIMES was not too impressed saying, "Despite its punchy energy, much of the choreography is implausible and repetitive. The duets are clumsy, the sex awkward; while the big ensemble numbers, instead of pumping adrenalin into our attention spans, slow things down. ALLEN ROBERTSON for TIME OUT says, "Essentially entertaining, but hardly brilliant."

Mathew Bourne has again a created another winner and again given the West End some diversity. If you liked his "Swan Lake", I'm sure you'll like this.

(Darren Dalglish)

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