The Car Man at the Festival Theatre

The Car Man had lot to live up to following last year’s phenomenal Edward Scissorhands. Again the award-winning choreographer Matthew Bourne delivers. The Car Man, a ballet based very loosely on Carmen incorporates the opera’s themes of lust, infidelity, murder, revenge and of course Bizet’s wonderful score. The story is set in a small mid west 1960’s American town with the majority of the action centred around the local garage and diner.

Front Cover of Car Man programme for Edinburgh Festval Theatre run

On entering the theatre, we were taken aback to find the curtain up and the dancers already on stage busying themselves on / under cars and chatting at the diner. The start of the performance was signalled by the revving of a car engine. Different…but I guess that’s typically Matthew Bourne. When the mechanics finish their day’s work they strip off to wash in the communal shower. This is performed with great comic effect to Bizet’s Toreador Song…ending with some male full frontal nudity which my male companions thought was unnecessary but I think the giggling older female members of the audience might disagree.

The peace of the small town is disturbed by the arrival of a handsome stranger (Luca). The girls want to be with him and the boys want to be him. He proceeds to have an affair with the garage owner’s wife (Lana) and the timid bullied Angelo (male). Without giving the story away, it’s enough to say the Car Man doesn’t end well for any of them.

The choreography is extremely physical, sexual and violent in parts (not one for the children). Added to this the imaginative set design and atmospheric lighting makes for a hugely entertaining theatrical dance performance which can be enjoyed by both dance and non-dance lovers. Matthew Bourne has hit on a formula that audiences love. I can’t wait to see next year’s offering.

The Edinburgh Festival Theatre’s run ends on 3 November. Tickets cost from £8.50 to £27.50.

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