Suspense, lust, and passion are the first three words that spring to mind when describing Matthew Bourne’s dance-tragedy The Car Man, a re imagined story of Bizet’s Carmen set to the same desirable score. Bourne’s version of this production first premiered in 2000 and 15 years on it is still as scandalous and impressive now as it was then, with audiences at the New Wimbledon Theatre pouring in to watch it on its current UK tour. It is an original story set in 1960’s America, in a rural Italian-American town ironically named ‘Harmony’. Bourne explains ‘ I was keen to create a “dance thriller”, full of plot twists and suspense. You can’t do that with a story people already know!”
The action takes place in a car mechanics garage located next to what can be imagined as the only bar for miles and where every 20-something in the neighbourhood hangs out. The girls are dressed in capri trousers and tight sweet heart neck tops and the men in grubby jeans, converse and white t-shirts bearing some similarity to the T-Birds in the film Grease. This youth dominant community has its order disrupted when a new mechanic ‘Luca’, played by Christopher Trenfield , arrives in town to work at the garage. His charm and good looks catch the eye of most women in the gang including the garage owners wife ‘Lana’, played by Zizi Strallen, who flirts her way into a passionate love affair with Luca resulting in a tragic ending of murder and betrayal.
Strallen’s portrayal of the stunning, seductive ‘but doesn’t she know it’ Lana steals the show. Strallen’s big brown eyes tell the story, they portray such expression and focus to her character that guide the audience through her emotional journey from flirtatious barmaid to a malicious deceiver who’s thought out actions put an innocent man in prison. Strallen dances with such grace and vigour that leaves the audience in awe of her impressively high kicks and sultry hip gestures.
Matthew Bourne’s internationally acclaimed dance thriller was first seen in 2000, winning the Evening Standard Award for ‘Musical Event of the Year’.
Bourne is a genius, an icon of British dance today and hailed as the UK’s most popular and successful choreographer /director. His talents lie in complementing gesture and expression with illustrating music to tell a captivating story. Such can be seen in The Car Man. Bizet’s powerful score layered with Bourne’s expressive and emotive choreography leaves the viewer so entrapped in the storyline it is easy to forget you are sat in a theatre watching a dance performance.
Matthew Bourne’s “The Car Man” will be touring the UK until August 2015. For tickets and more information on the show visit “new-adventures”
New Wimbledon Theatre, April 15th, 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015 – Author – I.P. Dincwear Team.