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"Quite literally Breathtaking"

Manchester Evening News

Alex Hibbert gives a rave 5 STAR Review for the Premiere at The Lowry in Salford.

 

There's really only so many superlatives that we can throw Matthew Bourne's way without getting bogged down in his brilliance.

The multi-award winning director has established a formidable reputation in performing arts by creating beautiful shows that challenge the very expectations of what dance can be.

Britain's best known choreographer's previous works include a Swan Lake in which he ripped up the rule book and the traditional tutus and let the prince fall in love with a male swan; another creation was a stage version of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands.

"The awesome is now conjured up at will: a strobe lit storm as the boys lie in fear, crimson lit savagery as hooded youngsters huddle and flail in unison or the resounding gasps of exertion after Simon's death."

Tonight his latest production,  choreographed by Olivier Award-nominated long-term company member Scott Ambler, reworks William Golding's Lord of the Flies with a cast that for each city it visits on its 13 date tour, which began at the Lowry Theatreon Wednesday, will establish a new company of 24 novice dancers at its core. That group of amateurs perform alongside eight professionals who play the leads throughout.

Bourne's dance version doesn't veer to far from its source material, an exhilarating narrative arc that represents exactly what it is to be human, the weakness and tragedy as innocence is lost.

As the production begins we witness the jubilant atmosphere as the company – made up of boys and young men aged from 10 to 22 – are full of vigour as their isolation begins.

In this segment Bourne's trademark playfulness runs wild: within the first 20 minutes a couple of members bare their bottoms to the crowd, collectively the troupe laugh and jeer and rollick and roll.

But gradually as the gang's isolation sets in, the mood slowly turns. An orange orb depicting the boiling sun beats down upon the company, and when night falls the atmosphere shifts.

Survival instincts now kick in, the group's movements and expressions become tinged with malice. With painted faces they chant and beat oil drums, flinging themselves around the set's multi-tiered levels.

As the second half of the performance starts we see three masked pig men taunt Simon's – a quite brilliant Layton Williams - moonlit nightmare. In the background a pig's head – the eponymous Lord of the Flies - rests atop a stick.

Chests are bared and the music, flawless throughout, now churns and ducks and dives with rage.

The awesome is now conjured up at will: a strobe lit storm as the boys lie in fear, crimson lit savagery as hooded youngsters huddle and flail in unison or the resounding gasps of exertion after Simon's death.

Now the cast sway as one and fall apart with ease, the momentum snowballs until in a climatic scene Ralph and Jack's battle for dominance is depicted in slow motion as the cast move slowly, then slower. The result is, quite literally, breathtaking.

It is now 60 years since the publication of William Golding’s iconic novel, and in those years we leave wondering whether his vision has ever been retold as successfully as this. 

 


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