The Car Man – Bristol Hippodrome REVIEW

I cannot believe it has taken me this long to review a Matthew Bourne performance on my blog. He is a great hero of mine and simply a genius choreographer. I have seen all of his recent work and would travel far and wide to see more. So naturally I was first in line for tickets of his latest piece “The Car Man”.

The Car Man’s storyline is loosely based around the novel “The Postman always rings twice” but modified to be set in a 1950s American motor garage, and the music adapted from the opera Carmen, giving Matthew his clever title.

The characters were fully developed and each one as complex as the next. They heavily contrasted and complimented each other, from the dorky cafe workers to the sultry mechanics with their bare torsos and slicked back hair. This also allowed for intense dance battles between characters and cliques displaying the talents of all the dancers meticulously chosen for their roles.

For me, the stand out character was Angelo, played by Liam Mower. I recognised Liam Mower for his work as Billy in the original cast of Billy Elliot the Musical, which instantly made me feel more connected to his character. His role as the love twist in the play, mixed with his characters vulnerability and humbly portrayed talents in fighting and mechanics, would make any audience member sympathise with him in a heart beat.

One of the conflicts in the play is the love triangle involving Luca, Angelo and Lana in which both Angelo and Lana fall in love with Luca, the new testosterone filled mechanic who oozes sexual charisma. This is shown by complex parallel solos danced towards Luca by both the infatuated characters.

The choreography was of Bourne standard, however I do not think it lived up to some of his other work such as Swan Lake. This was compensated by the strong storyline and vast range of emotional conflicts and brutal issues such as love, sex, homoeroticism, murder, gang violence, bullying, betrayal, which are frankly depicted in the production.

Another positive was that it was made easily watchable by non ballet followers due to the right balance of storytelling and dance, something many ballets seem to ignore. The use of Carmen’s famous piece Habanera throughout the ballet made the production more recognisable and relatable, also widening its audience.

Bourne has yet again provided a riveting and climactic perfomance, with drama and skill neatly entwined, one fact remains clear; no one does it better than Bourne.

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