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Matthew Bourne's Early Adventures


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This programme is at SW next week but I was able to see it nearer home and at a theatre that was really suited to slightly smaller scale works, the Theatre Royal in Brighton, it produced a wonderful atmosphere last night. I saw the TV show at Christmas that included extracts from all 3 works and wanted to see them complete, they are so witty, inventive and sexy, almost revue like although Town and Country has a serious side too. The music is a marvellous mix of classical and songs from the past, my favourite piece of all was Christopher Marney dancing a "merman" to La Mer (the song not Debussy) in The Infernal Galop, but there are so many things to enjoy!

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I saw this last night and loved it! I'd only seen the extracts on TV at Christmas so it was great to see the full pieces here. It was a lovely, uplifting way to spend an evening - great fun, funny at times and moving at others, full of exhuberance. Matthew Bourne is so witty and clever and it's obvious that he knows ballet and dance inside out. I think my favourite was the Town half of Town and Country (though I did love the rest of it too, especially the puppets bit in Country! I laughed and laughed - as did most of the audience :) )

 

I'm really looking forward to seeing what Bourne does with Sleeping Beauty later in the year.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The tour reached Cambridge last week, where I caught the final night on Saturday 16th. I thought all three pieces sat well on the relatively small stage of the Arts Theatre, and all of the performances by the small company of nine dancers (3 girls, 6 boys) were well received.

 

There were gags aplenty on offer all night, but overall I think that "Spitfire" was the cleverest of the three, run a close second by the Town half of "Town & Country." For the life of me, I cannot recall the advertisement that supposedly inspired this divertissement - four chaps in varied underwear posing, with knowing, sometimes camp, glances passing between them at almost every turn. If I'm not mistaken, it's largely set to chunks of music from "Don Quixote" and this provides no end of opportunity for grands gestes, an hommage of sorts to the Grand Pas de Quatre - though I imagine that the shade of Mme Taglioni might not recognise much of it. Whatever the case, it's a most witty piece of work.

 

Supposedly exploring notions of British (dare I say, English) national character and identity, "Town And Country" was in every sense a game of two halves. The Town half struck more chords with me - the manic ukelele finish to 'Land of Hope and Glory,' 'Sleepy Lagoon,' the Noel Coward song, and the positively brilliant "Brief Encounter"pastiche. The Country half was, I thought, less effective, but not without its moments. Despite its inherent silliness, the intrusion of the puppet animals and the 'accidental' demise of the hedgehog in the Clog Dance did raise a laugh - might Danny Boyle want to include a Hedgehog Funeral in the bucolic scene that we are promised for the Olympics Opening? And with the emphasis and setting being very 'country,' I'm still wondering why Percy Grainger's dockside "Shallow Brown" was included.

 

Finally, having poked a bit of fun at us Brits, it was time to take the piss (literally and loudly) out of our Gallic neighbours in "The Infernal Galop." (If you've seen it, you will know what I mean - if not, pensez au pissoir.) Lots of gags again, not all of which had me in stitches.

 

With the comedy aspects rather than the dance mainly sticking in the memory from these three early Matthew Bourne pieces dating from 1988, 1991 and 1989, respectively, it will surely be interesting to see how his new, full-length "Sleeping Beauty" turns out later this year.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw the matinee of Early Adventures in Nottingham last week. It was well worth the dreadful journey! The Playhouse is an attractive small theatre and it really suited the works.

 

I adored Spitfire. Ian is correct above, it is mostly the music from the Don Q pdd and I felt that it was a deconstructed version of that pdd (my friend thought I was strange!). We both thought it was really witty and I LOVED the fish dive. Many of the poses and movements reminded me of the pdd.

 

I can but echo Ian's comments on Town and Country. Matthew Bourne has been very clever and included lots of homage, including in Country to Fille - not only with a clog dance but also I found the back cloth reminiscent of the front cloth from Fille.

 

Infernal Galop was a rousing finale to an afternoon of wit and silliness in equal measure.

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