Matthew Bourne's production draws standing ovation
Matthew Bourne's 'The Car Man' exploded onto the stage at New Wimbledon Theatre last night in an energetic performance which won a standing ovation.
This dance thriller won the Evening Standard's Award for 'Musical Event of the Year' when it first came out in 2000, and there's no doubt it's a show that will live in the memories of the audience.
Loosely based on the themes of Bizet's popular opera, Carmen, it brings out the emotions of greed, lust, betrayal and revenge in the inhabitants of the close-knit American town of Harmony.
The only harmony about the show is the music, which is based on Bizet's opera, so there's some instantly recognisable scores.
The action begins when Luca, a handsome stranger played by Chris Trenfield, arrives in Dino's, a greasy garage-diner. He immediately wins the attention of both the men and women in the town.
The steamy dancing reflects both the erotic tension and the summer-time heat in the 1960s small town. Luca's eye is caught by Dino's wife Lana as well as Angelo, who has been picked on by the other men.
One memorable dance shows Luca trying to teach Angelo to box. Not long after that it's clear there's a couple being intimate in a car and when Luca and Angelo emerge from the vehicle, the surprise bought out a cry of "oh my God" from one audience member.
This gritty show also has elements of violence when Dino ends up being hit by a spanner, as the complex relationships are unravelled. Angelo is framed for the murder and is taken to the county jail. The lighting and setting is just brilliant at this point, as we feel we really could be in a mid-West American prison.
To add to the all-American feel of the show, there's also an exhilerating drag race. Naturally, there's a gun involved in the plot and Luca finally comes to a sorry end.
All this is captured in a breathtaking dance performance by The New Adventures company. Some of their dancing was just mesmorising and - with the atmospheric setting - it kept the audience gripped from start to finish.
I believe Matthew Bourne himself was in the audience at Wimbledon last night. I'm sure he'd have approved of the performance, I certainly did!
By Sue Choularton
April 23, 2015