Words and photos by: Peter Nicholson.
Not a word was spoken, but so much was said. This show is simply spectacular.
Based on the title, and knowing the show was performed to the music of Sting and The Police, I had been expecting a rather cliched effort to make a story fit loosely around some songs. Perhaps with some well-worn dialogue and some passable versions of songs we all knew, sung by the cast. I could not have been more wrong, or more pleasantly surprised. I was mesmerised by Message in a Bottle, from start to finish!
Having the songs of my youth being played, in most part, true to the originals, was always going to captivate me to some extent, but what I saw on stage was genuinely breath-taking. The cast of dancers displayed an unequalled knowledge and skill of their art. They combined ballet, contemporary dance, and even, in a seeming homage to the era of The Police, some break dance and body popping moves.
The story is of three siblings played by Harrison Dowzell, Deavion Brown, and Natasha Gooden, who give a demonstration of the athleticism and grace of contemporary dance. They acted with skill and precision, drawing you into the plight of their characters. The joy, heartbreak, tragedy, loss happiness, redemption and so many other emotions. This is a story that could be difficult to bring to such a simple stage set up, but the mastery of the set design combined with some quite beautiful and dramatic lighting captivates you and makes you feel part of each intertwined narrative. There were projections that were perfectly timed to specific dances sequences, where the slightest deviation would be obvious even to my untrained eye, but the entire cast were flawless. The choreography was a joy to behold.
I could easily run out of superlatives to describe this show. My admiration for the dedication of the entire cast to learn each subtle and superbly choregraphed move is enormous. When I see dancers such as the ones I saw this evening, learning moves that would be inconceivable to most of us in the audience, I find myself being in awe of their skill, strength grace and dedication.
At the end of the show, even the curtain calls were exciting. More spectacular dance moves as each section of the cast enjoyed their well-deserved standing ovation.
This is a show that I cannot recommend highly enough. As I said in my opening paragraph, spectacular!
Message In A Bottle is produced by Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK, co-produced with Birmingham Hippodrome and The Lowry, Salford. Tickets for Message in a Bottle runs until 13 May 2023) are on sale at mayflower.org.uk or 02380 711811.
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