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 Post subject: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2002 1:20 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The Times.

Quote:
IT MAY have been a working title that stuck, but the name of Matthew Bourne’s new production at the National Theatre proves to be remarkably apt. A hybrid of dance and theatre, Play Without Words delivers exactly what it says on the label. So the National’s regular theatre-going audience will know not to expect any dialogue, and Bourne’s own followers in the dance world — of whom there are many — will know not to expect any big dance numbers.
What then are we getting if we venture into the Lyttelton’s converted space? A vibrant, wicked satire of class conflict and sexual desire set in Swinging Sixties London and told exclusively through movement and music (a fine jazzy score from Terry Davies).

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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2002 9:34 pm 
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Play Without Words
By Debra Craine
Lyttelton
National Theatre

Quote:
IT MAY have been a working title that stuck, but the name of Matthew Bourne’s new production at the National Theatre proves to be remarkably apt. A hybrid of dance and theatre, Play Without Words delivers exactly what it says on the label. So the National’s regular theatregoing audience will know not to expect any dialogue, and Bourne’s own followers in the dance world — of whom there are many — will know not to expect any big dance numbers.
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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2002 9:47 pm 
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Location: London
Housewarming

National Theatre, London
Judith Mackrell
The Guardian

Quote:
Bitter legal wrangles have recently divided Matthew Bourne and his old production company Adventures in Motion Pictures (AMP), forcing him to set up a new ensemble. But there's a poetic justice to this outcome, for one of the pleasures of Housewarming (Bourne's debut project for New Adventures) is the success with which it is rooted in the small scale work AMP used to perform, prior to the classic blockbusters (such as Swan Lake) that eventually caused the company's split.
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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2002 10:16 pm 
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<img src="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/graphics/2002/08/26/btplay26.jpg" alt="" />

A groovily shagtastic and blazingly original show

Charles Spencer (The Telegraph) reviews Play Without Words at the National Theatre

Quote:
It's been a long time coming, but the National's brave but wildly uneven Transformation season has finally struck pure gold. Matthew Bourne's Play Without Words is an absolute cracker - funny, sexy, sinister, nostalgic, brilliantly stylish and blazingly original.

Bourne made his name with his marvellous, all-male production of Swan Lake, which gave classical ballet a witty and much needed kick up the derriere. There is, of course, nothing particularly original about the idea of a "play without words" - the term could be used to describe all the great 19th-century classical ballets.
mor e...

<small>[ 08-26-2002, 00:17: Message edited by: Emma Pegler ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 11:38 pm 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The Evening Standard.

Quote:
Matthew Bourne will go down in dance history as "the man who did the male Swan Lake". This is partly because his homoerotic take on the classic was a revelation, but mostly because his work since has not lived up to his early breakthrough.

Bourne's Play Without Words is precisely that - neither a play, nor a ballet. There are no words, but the dance is perfunctory, and mostly it is people walking around to Terry Davies's jazzy score. The setting is 1965, when an upperclass young man buys a house in London.

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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2002 2:45 am 
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This does look interesting - is anyone going?


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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2002 4:44 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Here are the details of the remaining performances of "Play Without Words". Matinees are at 2.30 and evening performances at 7.45 (incorrect original time now corrected):

August 27th(mat) 27th 29th(mat) 29th 30th 31st(mat) 31st


September 2nd 3rd 4th(mat) 4th 5th 6th 7th(mat) 7th 9th 10th 11th(mat) 11th 12th 13th 14th(mat) 14th

This afternoon I was told that there is still availability for all performances, but that following the strong press reviews tickets are beginning to go out fast. Sept. 12th is filling up very quickly.

<img src="http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/images/playwithoutwords082002.jpg" alt="" />
Here is the link to the full information on the National Theatre website.

<small>[ 08-28-2002, 07:19: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2002 10:36 pm 
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Review in The FT.

Quote:
Are these actors dancing or are they dancers acting? The movement of Matthew Bourne's Play without Words is on the cusp between dance and mime. Each action is exceptionally precise; but you can hardly tell whether it's impelled by an acting decision or a dance rhythm. Whereas Bourne's last work, The Car Man, really was a thriller, Play without Words is in a different vein: ironic, poetic, ambiguous. The effect its performers create is uncanny.

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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2002 2:01 am 
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Review in The Independent.

Quote:
This piece by Matthew Bourne may be entitled Play Without Words, but it isn't really a play – hardly enough plot – and it isn't dance or mime either. Perhaps it is best described as a dumbshow with a few little dance steps thrown in occasionally, generally to provide humour. The starting point of the story is clearly Joseph Losey's film The Servant (script by Pinter after Robin Maugham): new house-owner, fiancée, manservant and maidservant in a struggle for dominance. But this stage version lacks the sharpness of the movie.

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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2002 2:30 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Play Without Words
By Jeremy Austin for The Stage


Free from the constraints of Adventures in Motion Pictures, Matthew Bourne's first piece for his new New Adventures company delivers the invention, humour and fluidity that has been missing from his productions since Swan Lake.

Although Bourne and composer Terry Davies started from scratch on the piece – rather than the choreographer working to existing ballet scores – the story for the play without words owes much to Joseph Losey's movie The Servant. Subtitled 'the housewarming', a manservant uses a pretty housemaid to seduce the rich homeowner and then blackmails him.

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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2002 3:23 am 
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Stuart - have you been to see it yet? I'm looking forward to your opinion - don't think I am going to be able to get there this weekend so I'll have to enjoy it vicariously.


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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2002 11:24 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I saw it yesterday Emma and can strongly recommend "Play without Words". Dance lovers don't need to worry that there won't be much of their favourite art form. The movement may be derived from everyday experience and is used almost exclusively in narrative form, but for the friend I went with and myself there was no doubt that it was dance we were watching and very fluid and polished it was too.

There is much visual invention from the trios of dancers playing the main roles as reported in the reviews above and Matthew Bourne's regulars have a ball. In particular it was good to see Scott Ambler in a strong part as the butler. His overweight husband in "The Car Man" was a one-dimensional character that left him little scope for his fine acting. Steve Kirkham is also excellent here in the same role. Will Kemp and Michela Meazza are as eye-catching as ever and Alan Vincent plays the extrovert heart breaker with great flair. But fundamentally this is an impressive ensemble work with no weak links.

The second half is darker, but Bourne is always reluctant to merely repeat himself, even though I'm sure everyone would have been happy if the mood had continued in the same way as the hilarious first half. There are two back to back sex scenes near the end that may be around for too long, but there is the compensation of plenty of sensuous movement.

Overall this hit is a fine and imaginative production, superbly played and accompanied by an excellent commissioned jazz score. I'll try to see it again in the remaining two weeks of the run.

One point, the Lyttleton is an oddly shaped theatre and although the set design does take this into account, do try to get a seat as central as you can. The good news is that there are stand-bys for all at £12, which go on sale from 2 hours before the show.

<small>[ 09-02-2002, 01:44: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2002 1:01 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Only three can play
It could be ballet, or even mime. One of our brightest directors fills out all the forms - in triplicate. By Kate Kellaway in The Observer.


There are two subtitles to Play Without Words - 'The Housewarming' and 'On Seduction' - as if to offer audiences as many verbal clues as possible before committing them to a wordless evening. But what is a play without words? Mime? Ballet? Neither? And what was Matthew Bourne, one of Britain's most dynamic ballet directors, hoping to achieve?

According to a discouraging programme note, he seemed not to know himself: he and composer Terry Davies made up Play Without Words as they went along. Bourne understatedly confesses: 'Starting rehearsals when there is no play and no music - it's quite a tough one.'

But hold on. Inside the Lyttleton, reconstituted for the Transformation season, there is a set to lift the spirits. Three cheers for designer Lez Brotherston! Here is a London that looks as if it has been refashioned by Piranesi. The landmarks lean towards each other with tipsy confidence: the Post Office Tower, Big Ben, Centrepoint.

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Enjoy the silence
A sly, sexy social comedy, Play Without Words will be the talk of the town, says John Peter in The Sunday Times


Matthew Bourne romps into the National Theatre’s transformed Lyttelton space with a brilliant piece of dance-theatre that is also a feast of ambiguity. Play Without Words is not anything like Beckett’s short, tragical, comical, philosophical dumb show: it is a 100-minute erotic social comedy set in the 1960s, in which the house-warming party of a young man, Anthony, in Chelsea leads to his alienation from his fiancée and to his being in thrall to his own manservant. The story bears a teasing resemblance to Joseph Losey’s 1963 film The Servant, and Bourne’s visual skills need fear no comparison.

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<small>[ 09-01-2002, 03:03: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2002 11:47 pm 
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Another review from the Independent.

Quote:
No one remotely acquainted with Matthew Bourne's work should be surprised to find him creating a theatre piece for the National. He has always been an ideas man first, a dance maker second, baffled by critics who griped that his dance vocabulary was limited. Dance was never entirely the point. Play Without Words: The Housewarming is the fifth and last of the NT's Lyttelton summer-season commissions. Bourne, working with his re-formed company New Adventures, responds to this up-close focus with a finely nuanced domestic drama with only five characters. But in an intriguing reversal of the tactic commonly used in small-scale productions – ie doubling up when there are too many parts to go round – each of his five dramatis personae is represented by two or even three performers at once.

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 Post subject: Re: Play Without Words
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2002 3:00 pm 
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Play Without Words - Tuesday 4th September - 7.45p.m.

The Lyttelton is a favourite venue of mine as I have seen some of the best theatrical productions there over the years. It was therefore exciting to be viewing a dance piece there.

There has been much talk as to whether this can be viewed as dance but after seeing the precision and attention to detail that the opening scene brought to the stage then I feel that it could only have been performed by dancers who have that finite control of their body, to be able to mimic and adapt to each other's styles to enable three dancers to be playing the same character. Although difficult to watch and focus on in the beginning, with all the character's in their multiples of three's on stage, this clever effect that Bourne has developed really came into it's own in the second act where the threesome's played out different moves to show the heightened and varied emotions of their character. The "togetherness" of the characteras shown in the beginning now juxtaposed against a fragmented and confused inner self in the second act really helped to move the production on and keep the audience interested.

As Stuart said there is great humour in the piece and in particular the "dressing" scene was extremely slick and was very well received by the audience. The over characterisation of the party guests although humourous was perhaps a little over done for my liking but certainly put across the shallowness of that situation.

Although the mood becomes a lot darker in the second act I feel it is introduced and developed at the right pace. The sex scenes are built up to so that they truly sizzle with sensuality and the audience is awe-struck at the fluidity these dancers can produce.

The sets as always from Brotherson are inventive and functional - providing all the settings required but with a true understanding for the needs of the dancers. Costuming was very important in establishing strong connections with characters, especially as they were being played by multiple actors/dancers and I feel this was spot on. As Bourne says in his programme notes it was important that costuming was realistic due to the close proximity of the audience and therefore the performers were wearing "real" shoes". This made what the performers did even more amazing - their steps looking completely natural in what can't have been the easiest footwear to perform in.

The title Play Without Words could not describe the performance better. Bourne's term of calling the performers, actor/dancers, is quite right as all excelled in both elements. I think what I will take away most is the precison and attention to detail that Bourne developed. It was an interesting and polished piece that I think will have appealed to hardened dance fans and perhaps will also have drawn some of the hardened playgoers into the world of dance maybe.


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