24 April 2015

A lively The Car Man thrills at Wimbledon Theatre


Every time I write about dance I say that I should see more of it but, Sadler's Wells apart (and that is not very close) chances are few and far between so I make an effort to get to the ones that I can. This time that effort was forking out £36 for a seat (E23) in the fifth row of the Dress Circle.

It was an easy decision to break my own rules on pricing and seating to see The Car Man again, a show I had only seen once before way back in 2007. Not only had I enjoyed it then but it was by Matthew Bourne and I have loved everything of his that I have seen.

I try to plan my work around my theatre and had booked for a Friday so that I could work at home and then catch a couple of buses into Wimbledon for the evening show, pausing at Mai Thai on the way for something tasty to eat. I like to have a designated restaurant for each theatre that I go to regularly and Mai Thai fits the bill nicely.

In a break from what was tradition I did not go to the pub across the road or to the theatre bar before the show. I was not overly cutting down on my drinking but I was easing one or two out of the schedule just to help.

The view was much better than I expected with my fear of taller people sitting in front of me and I had a good view of the stage with no interruptions.

It had been a long time since I had last seen The Car Man so I sat down ready to be surprised and delighted all over again.

It was described as a reimagining of Carmen, rather than a retelling, and the story was very different. There was a cameo of the original in one scene with some Flamenco dancers in a bar reenacted part of her tragic story.

In The Car Man, Matthew Bourne played to all his strengths with lots of vibrant dancing, mostly in groups and with lots of things going on at the same time all across the stage. It was boisterous, energetic, flamboyant, sexy and huge fun. It may have been inspired by Carmen but there the mood is almost unremittingly gloomy (as the ending is long predicted) whereas here it was mostly jolly, despite some of the dark things that happened.

The poster at the top says it all really and, for once, was a true reflection of what the show was like. This is how I would dance if I could dance, but as I cannot dance like that I'll happily settle for watching other people do so instead.

This was, of course, a dance with a story to tell and there was plenty of acting as well as dancing, as always with Matthew Bourne. And, as with the dancing, this was not confined to the lead roles. This was an ensemble performance and a very good one too.

It was also good to see The Car Man playing to a packed house and showing that dance can be as popular and as entertaining as the familiar musicals that often show up at theatres like Wimbledon.

The only regret from the evening was realising that I had no more dance in my  diary to look forward too. Sadly, that is a recurring problem.

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