Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell Review – Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

Matthew Bourne's The Midnight Bell
Image Source: Playhouse Theatre

Show: Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell
Location: Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool
Dates: Tuesday October 19
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Age Rating: 14+
Production Company: New Adventures
Writer: Matthew Bourne
Director: Matthew Bourne

This is our theatre review for Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell at Liverpool‘s Playhouse Theatre.So, let’s take a look at Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell!

Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell

Background

Prepare for tales of intoxication from darkest Soho! Matthew Bourne’s latest world premiere for New Adventures covers the dark under-belly of London life in the 1930s. So, you have regular people emerging from basic boarding houses ever night. And they let out their passions, their hopes and their dreams across pubs and bars within Soho and Fitzrovia. And then there’s The Midnight Bell, a tavern allowing one lonely-hearts club to play out their lovelorn affairs. And these include bitter comedies about longing, frustration, betrayal but also redemption. This is simply a Dance Theatre event that you cannot miss.

Analysis

Matthew Bourne finds his inspiration for his new piece Midnight Bell from the great English novelist Patrick Hamiliton. Last night was the opening night for New Adventures’ new piece of work since Covid and the air was palpable with anticipation.

The cast is made up of 10 dancers and we were introduced to these slowly. Everyone had their own relationships and stories to tell. Hamiliton’s novel is based around the goings on of characters who live in single-roomed boarding houses in Soho and gather in a pub to find connections and solace. Somewhat mysterious and eerie, these characters forge relationships, smouldering into each other. Some shy, some reserved and some flirtatious. The set, which is designed by Lez Brotherston, evokes the 1930’s-style Soho; a hint of a telephone box, windows of a motel, pub door and a set of iron railings are all that is needed to transfix you into the scene.  The music is mostly instrumental with some 1930’s archived song recordings being used to where the cast would mime along to. Giving light relief from the intensity of the dancing and helping to drive the action along. 

Bourne’s choreography was on form. Emotive and precise and every cast member was enticing to watch and spawned their own storyline to which we delved deeper into their relationships. One of my favorite pairings was Michela Meazza and Glenn Graham. She played a lonely spinster eager for attention and comfort. Graham played the part of the sleazy rogue who steals her money in a captivating bedroom scene. Relatable, played with ease and despite the fact that no words were spoken throughout the whole show, when scenes are so well performed and so emotive as this, no dialogue is needed. 

Ballet, Contemporary and even some Tango was the flavour of the night. Ten dancers could seem like an awful lot. Especially with the intimate pairing of the Everyman stage however, every movement was choreographed within an inch of its life and yet, without looking too choreographed. Which is of course the main aim of any show. Everything seemed so spontaneous and natural. 

The storyline on paper could seem almost too simple. How deep can one actually go into a piece diving into the relationships of strangers? Their demons, their desires, their anguish and their secrets. Pretty deep it would seem. Judging from tonight’s performance there seems very little that these characters had left to show. Through the power of dance their stories and experiences came to life and were translated well. 

Summary

This was a captivating, heartfelt and cinematic production. The dancing is stunning, the storyline is touching and gripping to watch. Judging by the rapturous applause, Liverpool sure seemed to agree. 

Notes

Target Audience: 12+
Content: Haze and occasional loud noises
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding

Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell Further Links

Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell runs at the Playhouse Theatre from Tuesday October 19 to Saturday October 23 2021. So, to purchase tickets, please click here.

For more information about this show, please click here.

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