THE CARMAN by Bourne, , Choreography and Direction - Mathew Bourne, Music- Bizet, Designs - Lez Brotherston, Lighting - Chris Davey, Video - Duncan McLean, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK, 2022, Credit - Johan Persson/

The Car Man

Reviewer's rating

Audiences have come to expect high standards of excellence from a Matthew Bourne New Adventures production: exquisite storytelling, boundless energy, and the sort of immersive creativity that brings every second of the production to life. Without a doubt, The Car Man achieves these and more.

Dancing under the vast atrium roof of the Royal Albert Hall must be a feeling like no other. And the cast certainly fills the space, performing with a bold and sparkling vibrancy. From the very first moment, the atmosphere is electric: the music, design, and movement create that sultry and sexy mood that reminds us of iconic movies such as Grease, but with a darker, dangerous edge. Everyone wants to feel something grand in this garage diner, and when the mysterious Luca arrives, their world starts to shift and intensify.

Lez Brotherston has designed a spectacular set that transforms the space with creative combinations of realism, cinematic boldness, and powerful use of billboard screens. We are transported from the garage diner to a cabaret, to a prison cell, each location bringing its own tonal style. The choreography shifts with the space, the youthful, playful freedom of the opening sequences morphing into the pseudo sophistication of the cabaret. It is in the prison that the choreography takes on a new and visceral edge. The attack between Angelo and the prison warden is performed with powerful conviction.

Matthew Bourne knows how to tell a story. There is never a moment when we are not right there with the narrative, following the passions and the desires and the terrible decisions of Luca and Lana. It is rare to see a narrative ballet that requires no synopsis programme notes to help piece together the story. What is so special about New Adventures is the way that the company works together with impressive collaborative creativity to make every decision and every detail of the production exciting. From the opening numbers, the huge cast dancing with such character and joy, to the passionate duets between Luca and Lana, the dancers bring a focus and commitment to their roles that prove them to be exceptional actors as well as dancers.

An immensely talented cast and creative team, this is an opportunity not to be missed.