DanceNorth WestReview

Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures – Liverpool Playhouse

Director/Choreographer: Matthew Bourne

Reviewer: John Roberts

It is undisputable, Sir Matthew Bourne is one of the most commercially successful of British choreographers. With a career spanning over three decades, one wouldn’t be surprised if, at least once, you have witnessed his work – either through his company New Adventures or through his associations over the years with the likes of Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

Early Adventures revives three short pieces of dance that catapulted Bourne and his creative career with one (Town & Country) gaining Bourne his first Olivier nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.

Opening the evening is a charming 15minute piece which sees Bourne use Joyce Grenfell’s nursery school sketches as his stimuli. Watch With Mother gently plays with the childish dynamic of the playground, from the games children play through to the flitting and fickle nature of friendship and bullying. Bourne’s choreography is playful and joyous, with leaps and bounds and forward roles aplenty and provides the audience with a tantalising taste of what is yet to come.

Straddling between two intervals Bourne’s Olivier nodded piece Town & Country showcases the start of Bourne’s trademark style, here he plays with expectations and stereotype beautifully and injects the pieces with plenty of humour, however it is clear from the off that this is Bourne at the outset of his professional life, here the slick/tight nature and narrative progression of his more recent productions is sadly lacking and we are presented with short interwoven vignettes of “life”.

The same format follows with the final piece of the evening The Infernal Gallop a look at the quintessential life of the Parisian gay male, it is perhaps the evening’s most exciting piece and really starts to cement Bourne’s passion for the male form within the world of contemporary and narrative dance.

Lez Brotherston’s simple set design allows the pieces to flow and makes the movement and lines of the nine-piece dance ensemble ( João Carolino, Reece Causton, Tom Clark, Daniel Collins, Paris Fitzpatrick, Sophia Hurdley, Mari Kamata, Jamie Emma McDonald, and Edwin Ray) to story tell with real passion and commitment.

Early Adventures is certainly an entertaining evening, but one can’t help but feel that the three pieces within sadly sit in the shadows of their younger sister shows and as a result seem to find themselves as a historical point of reference to the career of Bourne. It is certainly one of for the dance collectors but may leave you wanting a little more from a name that we have come to rely on giving us so much more for our money.

Runs until 1st April 2017 | Image: Johan Persson


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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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