Play Without Words
A word from Matthew …
“Just call it a play without words for now.” Those were my words to the National Theatre when they asked me to create a piece of theatre in 2002. It was a chance for me to experiment, to create a completely original piece of work. Play Without Words has become the perfect title because it has other meanings; there’s so much you can say without words.
To celebrate New Adventures' 25th anniversary in 2012, our company wanted to bring back the production that, next to Swan Lake, is probably our most critically-acclaimed piece (and in my opinion the most unique and stylish!)
Set in Chelsea, London in 1965 Play Without Words explores the free-loving swinging 60s and its darker, seductive side.
We’ve created something that’s sexy, chic, suave and full of the trade-mark style and drama I hope you expect from a New Adventures production. In a Chelsea home, where only the most beautiful people live, an urbane master and his beautiful fiancée welcome their new manservant, Prentice. What follows will change their lives forever – and prove a surprising truth about love and the struggle for power, territory and sexual domination.
The story was inspired by several 1960s films, most notably The Servant, in which the class system is challenged when a servant turns the tables on his arrogant employer. Two of our original cast members Saranne Curtin and Richard Winsor (who starred in The Car Man, Swan Lake and Dorian Gray, and Swan Lake 3D) returned to the show in 2012. I’m sure you’ll agree that I have an outstanding, versatile, beautiful and sexy company which – combined with a very cool jazz score – makes this show a dazzling dance-theatre work.
Director / Choreographer
A great show, witty, timely, beautifully designed, sometimes chilling, hugely entertainingScotsman
The History of the Show
World Premiere: 23 Aug 2002 at the National Theatre
This unique collaboration between the National Theatre and New Adventures opened in 2002 and was revived in 2003/04 at the National Theatre (first performance 10 December 2003). A UK Tour followed and played Norwich, Edinburgh, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Manchester, High Wycombe, Birmingham, Woking, Bromley and Plymouth. 2005 International Tour dates included Tokyo (5 weeks), Brooklyn (3 weeks), Los Angeles (8 weeks) and Moscow.
As part of New Adventures' 25th Anniversary Celebrations, the 2012 Revival was first performed on Friday 20 July at the Leicester Curve then 4 weeks at Sadler’s Wells, and finally Norwich Theatre Royal.
Photos & Videos
Awards & Reviews
OLIVIER AWARDS 2003
Winner of Best Entertainment
Matthew Bourne winner of Best Theatre Choreographer
Lez Brotherston nominated for Best Theatre Design
Paule Constable nominated for Best Lighting Design
NATIONAL DANCE AWARDS 2004
Winner of Best Choreography (Musical Theatre)
LOS ANGELES DRAMA CRITICS AWARDS 2005
Winner of Best Choreography
NEW YORK DRAMA DESK AWARDS 2005
Nominated for 5 awards including Unique Theatrical Experience
SOUTH BANK SHOW AWARDS
THE GUARDIAN 2019
Listed in The Guardian's Top 20 of 'Best Dance of the 21st Century'