CriticalDance Forum

Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words
Page 3 of 4

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Jan 29, 2005 11:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

art076, you're right. This tour is much smaller than I thought it was. Bourne has a big following in LA. When it comes to N. American tours by most companies, Cal Performances tend to play a pivotal role in commissioning new works or underwriting a tour. So it has a huge impact.

9/11 was blamed for the cancellation of "Car Men" but I am not convinced that was the real reason. ABT continued to dance to sell out houses in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Furthermore, Bourne's "Nutcracker," even for its premiere, was a weak sales performer in Berkeley compared to Morris' "The Hard Nut," during a period when other performances were doing very well.

I think it has to do with American audiences, except for LA, not knowing where to place Bourne's type of works -- is it dance, is it a musical or is it theater? While Tharp's "Movin' Out" for example did well in the box office via heavy promotion, many people I know were disappointed -- they were either dance fans who felt there wasn't enough dancing or musical fans who didn't think there was enough spectacle.

<small>[ 29 January 2005, 03:16 PM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jan 29, 2005 3:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

AMP had achieved some standing in the US in those days as far as I could make out, but nothing like the brand recognition of ABT. Plus, ballet is the dominant dance form.

<small>[ 29 January 2005, 04:53 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  kurinuku [ Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

Matthew Bourne Does the Horizontal Ballet

the New York Times

As for sex, the dancers look more interested in their jetés than in each other, and the homoeroticism is so suppressed that it seems comically antique: the love that dare not dance its name. The divide between what you're interested in and what you're supposed to be interested in can make the experience of "Sleeping Beauty" or "The Nutcracker" almost schizophrenic.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

From Jesse Green: "I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Bourne ended up directing a terrific TV series someday, a dancing teenage soap opera on Fox - with hunks but no fairies."

Hope not!

Very interested to see what NY makes of "Play Without Words".

<small>[ 13 March 2005, 10:33 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  kurinuku [ Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

Seduced by 'The Servant'
Matthew Bourne reimagines a biting 1960s film

the New York Daily News

"Play Without Words" is loosely based on the landmark Joseph Losey film "The Servant" (1963), in which a wealthy young man hires a manservant when he moves into a London townhouse. In Bourne's version, they tangle with the master's well-bred girlfriend, an impudent housemaid and a blue-collar seducer in a portrait of sexual license driven by class conflict.

Author:  kurinuku [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

Serving the Master
One choreographer's approach to punishment and pleasure, another's search for peace

the Village Voice

Ingeniously, Bourne allots three performers each to four principal roles, and two play Sheila. Occasionally, one actor-dancer takes over a role, as in Alan Vincent's coarse, athletic outburst as Speight, At other times, all the Glendas, say, prowl identically, in counterpoint to all the Anthonys.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

By Tobi Tobias for Arts Journal

Matthew Bourne, who has relentlessly been creating new takes on golden holies (Nutcracker, La Sylphide, Cinderella, and—the one that made it to Broadway—Swan Lake), insists in interviews that his work, if it’s dance at all, is for people who don’t like dancing. Yet a number of well-known dance critics, both American and British, have been dancing around it, clapping their hands, and Bourne has won enough awards to require a dedicated trophy room. Now his Play Without Words—which copped an Olivier in 2002, when it was created for the Brits’ National Theatre—has come to town. I like dancing; should I have stayed home?

click formore

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

Hey! With Ms Tobias, I also like dancing, but I certainly wouldn't stay at home when Mr Bourne is in town.

Pleased to see that Deborah Jowett n the Village Voice did get the point.

<small>[ 22 March 2005, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  kurinuku [ Wed Mar 23, 2005 1:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

What's the Story: Is It Dance or Theater?
JOHN ROCKWELL in the New York Times

I think it's dance, pure if not so simple. But my main interest is why Mr. Bourne, like several other European choreographers, seems so eager to market his dance as theater.

<small>[ 23 March 2005, 02:27 AM: Message edited by: kurinuku ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Apr 04, 2005 10:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

I've consolidated the various postings on "Play Without Words":


the PageSix via Yahoo

But despite a few masterly stage touches, the piece seems bland and empty, especially given the decadent and sinister dramatic impact of the cinema noir original.


In The New Yorker, Joan Acocela writes at length about "Play Without Words," at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through Sunday, April 3, 2005:


Robert Gottlieb writes his impressions of the performance at BAM in The Observer:

<small>[ 04 April 2005, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  art076 [ Tue Apr 05, 2005 8:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

There is a discount running for "Play Without Words" performances at the Ahmanson Theatre:

Mention code 5453 and save up to 45%! Not valid on front-center orchestra or previously purchased tickets. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Call (213) 628-2772 or visit the Ahmanson Theatre box office.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

Thanks for the heads up Art. My advice to our East Coast readers, interested in new theatre experiences, is to give it a try. Forget whether it is dance or not and enjoy a unique performance.

<small>[ 05 April 2005, 12:19 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Andre Yew [ Sun Apr 10, 2005 4:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

Argh! I wish the LA Times didn't have a paid subscription so everyone could read the entirety of Matthew Bourne's article in today's LA Times. Basically, it explains the motivations behind PWW --- he is interested in storytelling, and is inspired by Fred Astaire's movies in how he does it. Dance for him isn't there for its own sake, but more for moving the story forward.

He sees the theatre/dance separation that some critics have proposed as a false dichotomy (which I agree with), and says that the main purpose of his theatre is to communicate, which he does very ably through dancing.

He mentions that his company works more like a drama company than a dance company when they're trying to figure out how to make things work.

What more is there to say?
Matthew Bourne, Special to the LA Times

I don't mind the big questions, and I rather like debates. However, I must admit to some puzzlement over recent discussions regarding "Play Without Words." "Is it dance? Is it theater?" Has the title alone provoked this confusion? If it has, I should probably let everyone know that it's all quite accidental.
I said, "Well, why don't I try and do a play without words. Would that be interesting to you?" He wrote down, "Play Without Words." It stuck. Later, I tried to change the title to "The Housewarming." They told me I could use "The Housewarming" as a subtitle. "Can't I have 'Play Without Words' as the subtitle?" I couldn't. So, here we are.
more (requires paid subscription)

Author:  2 left feet [ Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

I can see why Matthew Bourne’s “Play without Words” was so well received in England. In choosing to make sport of a uniquely British institution, the man-servant, Bourne lets loose his cheeky wit and chaos ensues. Yet for all the potential pleasure and drama of the situation, I couldn’t help feeling like we’d been here before. Bourne seems to be fixated on the theme that once lust enters into your life there’s no turning back. It was truly remarkable the first time, thoroughly entertaining the next. But I wish he’d use his immense talents and move on to another theme.

Bourne is at his best when he’s making social commentary, skewering the things we turn a blind eye toward, conveniently ignoring in the name of propriety. They’re the kind of things we sneak envious glances back over our shoulder at as we walk away, then tell ourselves we should feel bad for hungering for it in the first place. They appeal to a base, more carnal side in each of us, one we try very hard to deny ourselves. Hence the enjoyment we derive watching the demise of others who give in to desire. And we get lots of opportunity to play the voyeur in “Play without Words.”

The best moments come when the world is falling apart, when each of the couples alternate between fighting off their urges and the thrill of the seduction. Bourne excels at setting action, rising to the challenge of creating three interesting narratives happening simultaneously. Making easy use of the set as elegantly simple as it is complex, not a square foot of stage real estate goes wasted. As Anthony and Sheila alternately seduce and feign innocence, humor spices the scene. Unfortunately, this same humor not only drags the scene out far too long, it takes away from the power of the inner-struggle Anthony confronts. The effect leaves the sequence feeling less doomed than inevitable.

While there are some wonderful moments in “Play without Words,” it felt more like going over familiar territory. Bourne plays women as man’s downfall, becoming stereo-typical props upon which to hang conflict. He even populates his 1960’s world with many of his previous dancers, few of whom are up to the potential emotional power sewn into the subtext of the performance. Scott Ambler was the only dancer with a sense of physical and emotional presence from very start. His Prentice was nuanced, even human. Richard Winsor’s Anthony rose to the character’s possibilities by the end of act II. None of the women, however, had much to offer in the evening’s performance. The Glenda’s seemingly pulled most of their character from Barbara Perkins’ Anne Wells in “Valley of the Dolls”, moodily emoting and adrift. The Sheila’s were pure stereo-type. And I could have done without the Austin Powers homage in the party scene. This only called attention to itself which was unnecessary and indulgent.

For all their experience working with Bourne these dancers bring, there was a remarkable lack of acting ability present. Bourne’s work is intense, demanding for any dancer, but it is less about technical ability than it is about knowing how to move. Like any choreographer, I’m sure Bourne has a soft spot for those he’s worked with before. He knows them and they know the way he works. Yet as an artist, I’d like to think he could see that finding performers who bring less than the right qualities to a work brings the over-all level down a notch. Not each of these dancers brought the right mix of abilities to the stage and it showed. He would do well to concentrate more on dancers who can emote better next time.

I did enjoy certain touches. Near the end of act II when the phone rings, both Prentice and Anthony resist the urge to answer. It was like watching Pavlov’s dog fighting a primal urge.

But I’m tired of Bourne relying on cliché to make his point. In each of his pieces we’ve seen, the hero makes the trek to the seedier side of life, in this case, a world of bars, strip joints, over-populated subways (nice use of the set as the subway) and strip clubs. Temptation and depression take lots of other forms and need not depend on recycled scenes from previous shows to make a point. “Play without Words” was enjoyable entertainment but it lacks the power of “Swan Lake” and the intensity of “Car Man.”

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Apr 18, 2005 12:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Matthew Bourne/New Adventures - "Play Without Words

Laura Bleiberg previews the performance in the Orange County Register:

<small>[ 18 April 2005, 02:18 PM: Message edited by: Francis Timlin ]</small>

Page 3 of 4 All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group