But 30 years ago his original Adventures in Motion Pictures were a small and irreverent outfit. Bourne’s early works show all of the bite, narrative flair and deep-seated love of English dance that define his style today.
This programme celebrates three decades of a company who have always had a lot to say.
Town and Country opens the programme. The piece collects a series of post-war vignettes owing no small debt to Bourne’s love of the great English choreographer Frederick Ashton. Two men who meet in a hotel lobby perform ‘what may be the most yearningly beautiful duet Bourne ever created’ (Guardian); a wealthy couple perform a haughty water ballet in the bath and a man strums Pomp and Circumstance on the ukulele.
Particularly entertaining is a brutally concise version of Brief Encounter, comic ambrosia for Bourne’s cinematic sensibility.
In the country there’s a pastoral clog dance, a touch of moonlight weeping and ‘the funniest use of a dead hedgehog glove puppet that I have ever seen’ (Telegraph).
Rather less subtle is The Infernal Galop (an old name for the Can Can) a satire of how the English see the French. Lez Brotherston, Bourne’s long-time collaborator, contributes a strikingly Parisian set. A number of liaisons occur around its central pissoir, culminating in a reluctant Can Can.
And lastly the cleaner comedy of Watch with Mother, based on the nursery sketches of Joyce Grenfell. This piece has not been seen for almost 25 years - it'll be interesting to assess whether it's stood the test of time.
The programme has been touring England to ecstatic reviews from critics and public alike, revelling in the essential Bourne, his perfect understanding of the English, and love, if not reverence, for its idiosyncrasies. New or old, Matthew Bourne ballet tickets remain an adventure.
Age guidance: 12+ (some adult themes)
|What||New Adventures: Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
03 Apr 17 – 08 Apr 17, Also at 2:30pm on Saturday 8
|Price||£12 - £45|
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells|