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Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man: DVD

December 13, 2017

Created back in 2000, Illuminations now release a live DVD, filmed at Sadler’s Wells. For dance fans, it’s unmissable, for those curious about the art form, there can be no better introduction.

After years of “Swan Lake” and “Cinderella,” Bourne’s team wanted something set in the real world. The hit on the idea of combining the story elements of a drifter arriving in small town America – key of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Obsession,” with the music of Bizet’s opera “Carmen.”

So the show opens with mid-Western small town folk going about their daily lives. Dino (Alan Vincent) runs his garage and a grubby-looking diner. Much younger wife Lana (Zizi Strallen) assists and hope for better. Sister Rita (Kate Lyons) is there for her – her kindly boyfriend Angelo (Dominic North) is bullied but loyal. And then sexy drifter Luca (Christopher Trenfield) arrives.

What follows is a twisting tale of seduction, betrayal and rough justice – entirely told by body movement, a terrific Les Brotherston set and inventive Chris Davey lighting.

The tone switches from light comedy as the crew prepare for a night out, to the thrill of automobile action, tingles of seduction, the bleakness of jail and the viciousness of avengement.

Needless to say, the dance is impeccable. Trenfield and Strallen between them have a chemistry that sets the stage ablaze. Conspirators, ultimately bound by fatal events, along the way there is also comedy and truth in what they do, providing strong contrast to the darkest moments.

North possibly gets the most interesting role. His scenes as a wronged man are played with dignity, the steps always suggesting that even in the depths, he has something to give and retain a sense of self. Working with Lyons, there are touching moments as her own formidable skills bring focus to a difficult scene as a complicated scenario is played out.

Vincent manages a truculence yet tempers it with something that keeps the audience on-side. His handling of the drama in particular are assured, pacing sequences with a skill that manages the stage and story for the company.

This is a group effort. According to the informative extra documentary, the cast can play most roles, and have done so, bringing a different perspective to each performance. This recording is thus just one of a number of combinations, but if they had to record only one, I think they should be proud of it. An interesting gift for anyone seeking a celebration of Bourne’s company at it’s very best.

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