Matthew Bourne’s new show is a cubist dance masterpieceby David Benedict / June 20, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Play Without Words
Leicester Curve, 29th June-7th July;
Sadler’s Wells, London, 12th July-5th Aug;
Norwich Theatre Royal, 7th-11th Aug
Popular though competitive dance may be—more than 10m people regularly tune in to the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing—the art form as a whole is rarely regarded as intellectually demanding. That view, however, doesn’t take into account the choreographer Matthew Bourne’s extraordinary Play Without Words, touring across Britain this summer. A smouldering confection of class politics, power and sex, with a vibraphone’n’sax-drenched jazz score, it won the 2003 Olivier award for Best Entertainment. Not bad for a work, created in just five weeks, which is nothing less than cubism live on stage.
Posters for Bourne’s routinely record-breaking shows herald him as the nation’s favourite choreographer. That status and box-office clout has largely been achieved via his celebrated reworkings of classics, in particular his Swan Lake with male swans, a readjustment recognising that creatures traditionally rendered in willowy elegance are actually powerful, vicious and dangerous.