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Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures review at Richmond Theatre – ‘joyous and entertaining’

Scene for Matthew Bourne's The Infernal Galop
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After winning the International Award for his company's touring work at The Stage Awards 2017, Early Adventures sees Matthew Bourne return to the three works that launched his career.

From the opening number, Watch With Mother, it’s easy to see why Bourne’s work has such far reaching appeal. There’s a great clarity to both movement and narrative which, combined with the expressive characterisation of the cast, makes his work easily accessible – even for those unfamiliar to dance.

Against the backdrop of a school gym, a series of childhood games unfold. The tone may be playful but there's an edge of cruelty to the dancers’ actions, with performer Tom Clark outcast by his classmates. Beneath the humour there's a sense of realism.

Both Town and Country and the final Parisian-based work, The Infernal Galop, are odes to a bygone era. Both run through a series of vignettes filled with nostalgic imagery and familiar music of the time. There may be moments of cliche – the townspeople engage in social pastimes while the countryfolk labour in the fields – but this is done with charm and humour. Crucially, none of these works take themselves too seriously. From the woodland puppets that peep over the set in Country to The Infernal Galop’s amusing interpretation of La Mer in which a dressing-gown clad Clark flips about as a merman – accompanied by three sailors.

These three succinct works neatly capture Bourne’s deftness as a storyteller – the ability to be both humorous and sensitive that has won over audiences and introduced so many to the world of dance.

Verdict
Joyous and entertaining showcase of Matthew Bourne’s early work
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