REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures, York Theatre Royal

EARLY ADVENTURES by Bourne. Credit: Johan Persson

EARLY ADVENTURES by Bourne. Credit: Johan Persson

I first became a fan of Matthew Bourne’s work after being bowled over by his choreography, sense of humour, strong story line and powerful imagery, in what is sure to become a cult ballet Edward Scissorhands. If you think ballet’s not for you, then I urge you to at least try to attend one of his ballets – he’s not afraid to do his own thing, with a clear Bourne Identity.

I’d had to travel to Bradford to see Edward Scissorhands, so I was delighted that Matthew’s Company were making their York debut, with a two-day visit of Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures.

The opening Watch With Mother section was nostalgic, and observant when it came to the way children can behave in the playground. Tom Clark was superb in his role of the outcast child; when the hand of friendship was finally offered to him, you could feel the audience’s smile.

It didn’t matter a jot if you weren’t familiar with dance, you could just go with the flow and enjoy imaginative storytelling, and superb ballet dancing, varying from poignant, romantic duets, to stunningly daring and dynamic pieces such as BathTime. Lots of laughter, but edged with sorrow, and a hint of rebellion too; the 30s maid and butler wielded ukuleles as weapons at their “betters” at the end of the piece – highly original and engaging ideas, that we’ve come to expect from Matthew Bourne’s work.

The final Adventure was The Infernal Galop (otherwise known as The CanCan). What a visual, and musical treat that was.