I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so excited for a show. But then again, that’s what Matthew Bourne does to me.
He’s a master at what he does; an absolute genius. He takes something classic and turns it completely on its head; the result always being spectacular.
He challenges, he experiments, he inspires.
Aside from my admiration for this man and his stunning work, I’ve felt a real connection to this production. Some of you will remember I sat in on one of the earliest dress rehearsals for the local lads appearing in the show. Those of you that don’t know anything about the show (have you been living under a rock?!), Bourne has 20 (approx) local boys from every area to which the show tours performing alongside the New Adventures cast. The boys had to go through rigorous audition processes followed by weeks and weeks of hardcore rehearsals (fit in all around their school work – the youngest lad from the Cardiff cast was only 9!). But if you think these roles are just backseat ones, no no no my friend, how mistaken you are. Even before the show I knew they would be playing integral parts; but nothing could prepare for how intense and full on their performances really would be!
So yeah, it’s safe to say I was feeling pretty emotional about the whole thing. I mean, these lads were absolutely adorable. And so, so dedicated. I couldn’t get over what an incredible opportunity this was going to be for them. Humbled doesn’t quite cut it.
We made our way to our seats. The buzz in the air was palpable. We all knew it; you come to see a Bourne performance, you need to prepare yourself to be blown away. As the auditorium shook with excited murmurs, your eyes were drawn to the already exposed set. A stark, simple stage representing the inside of an abandoned theatre. Clear but effective.
All at once the show started with an almighty bang (quite literally). Immediately an expectant hush fell across the Donald Gordon.
What followed in the next two hours rendered me speechless.
As always, Bourne managed to unfold the tale across the stage with such intelligence. You could see and hear every single word of Golding’s classic novel without a single one being uttered. From the initial confusion to the boyish excitement of living without adults to the assignment of leaders and eventually, the utter chaos and breakdown. You saw it all, word for word. You didn’t have to be a dance lover to understand that.
Of course, the New Adventures boys were incredible. So much so I spent about every other minute thinking “I want you to marry me”
sorry not sorry. You can’t put talent like that into words. Their characterisation of the older boys was on point; it took about one minute to be able to identify who was who. They glided across the stage, their movements intoxicating to the point I had a constant stream of tears just dangling from my (ridiculously jealous) eyes.
But the local boys… what can I say. Apart from age difference, you couldn’t tell them apart. I mean, that choreography has hard. Really, really hard. Yet every single one handled it like a true professional. They fit in seamlessly with the professionals, performing with natural talent and passion. These boys have a future in dance. Each and every one of them. Incredible.
Whilst I adored every single moment, it was the second half that really engulfed me. Here the chaos and tension was at breaking point. We all know the story. This is when s**t got real.
And this is the type of work I love. That manic dance, the dance that makes your heart miss a beat. The fury, the hunger, the energy. The heavy music sweeping over you; the terror that ensues. The boys all chanting manically on the stage, covered in war paint and blood. The expectation. The moment reality hits.
Even as I write this, I can feel all my hairs standing on end again. It was easily one of the most overwhelmingly beautiful pieces of theatre I have ever seen; and anyone who knows me will know that’s a pretty big statement.
As the show culminated in a sudden and clever ending, I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of admiration and also disappointment. I wasn’t ready for it to end!
Needless to say, the whole theatre was on its feet. Snapping out of the hypnotic state I’d found myself in, no amount of clapping and cheering would ever be enough. It was spellbinding.
Lord of the Flies is showing at Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday 25 October. I’m already trying to work out if I can squeeze in another performance! Dance fan or not, take a risk. You will not be disappointed.