Dance preview: Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man

Dance preview: Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man

Bourne's adaptation of Bizet's Carmen gets hot and steamy under the bonnet

The title, era and location may have changed but three things in Matthew Bourne’s version of Bizet’s Carmen remain the same – sex, violence and heat.

First performed in 2000, revived in 2007 and now back on the road, Bourne’s gritty and sensual work ‘re-imagines’ Bizet’s 1875 opera, with a few tweaks. The original was set in a 19th century cigarette factory; Bourne’s The Car Man takes place at a garage / diner in 1960s small town America. Both, however, capture humanity and its various desires.

Dancer Dominic North, who joined Bourne’s New Adventures company in 2004, is one of only two performers who have danced in the show before. He’s been helping the cast prepare for life in the fictional town of Harmony, USA.

The Car Man is different to other New Adventures productions,’ says North. ‘It’s not a fairy tale family show, it’s more real and grounded, these are normal people.’

In Bourne’s version, the arrival of a handsome stranger sends the Italian American community of Harmony into heat-drenched debauchery – including more than a few punch-ups.

To capture the right atmosphere and attitude, Bourne gave his dancers a list of films to watch during rehearsals, such as the 1946 and 1981 versions of The Postman Always Rings Twice; Rebel Without a Cause, and Fight Club.

‘The town is very hot, sticky and sweaty, and the violence is quite real,’ says North. ‘We have to practise hard and make sure we’re very much in tune with each other, because it’s full-on brawling – with the added benefit of blood.’

The Car Man opens at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre on Tue 9 Jun.

Matthew Bourne's The Car Man

The legendary choreographer presents his re-imagining of Bizet's Carmen.

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