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Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man

Published 20 July 2015

What’s it all about?

Welcome to hot, sultry, 1960s small town Harmony. This is a place where sweaty mechanics wear sweaty vests looking all masculine and sweaty while the local women hang out at the diner quenching their thirst with lemonade or something a little stronger.

You know what it’s like when the heat’s that oppressive. All it takes is for one denim-clad stranger to drift in from nowhere and take a fancy to the garage owner’s distinctly flirtatious wife and you’ve got a crime of passion on your hands.

Don’t be confused, you’d be absolutely right in thinking that is not the plot of Carmen. This is Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed dance production inspired by Bizet’s music but taking more of its plot inspiration form The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Who’s in it?

The casts rotate. No, not pirouetting – though there’s some of that too – there are a couple of performers for each demanding role.

On press night Zizi Strallen, formerly of Rock Of Ages and Merrily We Roll Along, proved herself  – should more proof be needed – a stunning dancer. A mile away from the Mary Poppins she will become in the autumn, she positively oozes sexiness with every stretch of a limb or cheeky glance at an oiled bicep.

Chris Trenfield as the catalytic stranger in their midst has the charisma and latent machismo to entrance an entire town, while Liam Mower, formerly an Olivier Award winner as the first stage Billy Elliot, retains the innocence of youth as put upon dogsbody Angelo, before releasing a furious, pent up anger.

What should I look out for?

What shouldn’t you? Bourne’s production is a visual feast, from Lez Brotherston and Chris Davey’s design work that has you almost tasting the humidity, to Bourne’s choreography which is a sexy as you’re allowed to be with most of your clothes on.

About that… they do come off at one point for a very cheeky locker room scene which actually doesn’t feature any cheeks thanks to some cleverly placed set. It’s classically British naughty humour in a very American setting.

In a nutshell?

Steamy, sultry and stunning, Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man is a full throttle sexy summer hit.

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Will I like it?

This is popular dance at its very best. Accessible and intriguing with wit aplenty, a strong story, an exceptional cast and choreography so hot you could fry an egg on it. If you’re not a regular dance fan but fancy giving dance a try, this is certainly a good way in. If you are a regular dancegoer, you don’t need me preaching about the force that is Matthew Bourne, you already know. Get to Sadler’s but take a bucket of ice cold water with you. I may have mentioned, it’s HOT!

Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man plays at Sadler’s Wells until 9 August. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.

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