The Midnight Bell at The Orchard Theatre

Midnight Bell is the latest dance piece by Matthew Bourne to grace the stage. It tells of life in Soho in the 30’s and those that drink at the Midnight Bell. From a (then taboo) gay romance to a man with schizophrenia and a prostitute to a young woman who is conned during her search for love. 10 characters in all are followed and out of this 6 relationships. We watch as these relationships unfold and for many of them, their demise.

Matthew Bourne’s ability to story tell through dance is incredible and the layers within the piece often mean that at times I was concerned that if I fixated on one couple for too long in the larger numbers that I would miss important information elsewhere, especially in the early stages of the show when I was still trying to piece together the relationships. However once I let the piece was over me I was able to enjoy it a lot more. The dancers stories were so wonderfully interwoven and this took a literal turn in some numbers when the one bed became a meeting point for numerous couples, intricately choreographed to maximum effect.

The dancers themselves were all incredibly talented and it is a testament to their ability that by the end of the show I was referring to them as the actors rather than the dancers. They embodied their characters brilliantly and I really brought into their underlying story. One of the strongest stories was that of Albert played by Liam Mower and Frank played by Andrew Monaghan. They play a couple who struggle with the perception of their love and the impact this has on their relationship. At pivotal moments in their story there was literally gasps from the audience.

The music varied massively from well known songs from the 30’s to beating original music composed by Terry Davies, all of which fitted perfectly for the scenes being played out to them.

The set compliments the dark story brilliantly, with outlines of London’s windows, rooftops and telephone boxes where calls cleverly take place. The lighting enhanced this and cleverly made the underworld feel dark whilst still being able to see the dancers perfectly.

Midnight Bell is a unique contemporary dance piece that tells stories that you don’t normally see portrayed via this medium. For fans of dance this is a must see for an unusual story told by incredibly talented dancers, complimented by perfectly matched music and a strong technical side.

Midnight Bell is on at the Orchard Theatre until 2nd October and continues its run onwards from there. You can find out where the tour is going to on their website.

If you like this review for Midnight Bell you might also like my review of Matthew Bourne’s previous works including The Red Shoes and Cinderella.

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