Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man theatre show reviews – Royal Albert Hall ★★★★

Theatre Reviews are in for Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man which returns for a limited run at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The show is a “steamy dance thriller with a supercharged engine” and that the new staging in the Royal Albert Hall is ‘bigger! bolder! beefier’. The Telegraph says its ‘absolutely crystal-clear in its storytelling, and fizzing with intelligent irreverence’ and The Independent describes it as a ‘deft, intense reinvention, simmering with danger’.

Bourne’s sexy and dangerous dance epic, based on Bizet’s beloved Carmen, is spectacularly reimagined for the Royal Albert as part of their 150th Anniversary Season. The show features an expanded company of 65 dancers and musicians, lead by Will Bozier and Richard Winsor as ‘Luca, The Car Man’ and Ashley Shaw and Zizi Strallen as ‘Lana’; a live orchestra and new designs.

Read a round-up of reviews for Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man from UK theatre critics

Average Critics Rating★★★★

The Car Man reviews


“Steamy dance thriller with a supercharged engine”

“Bourne’s 1950s potboiler has been beefed up for a larger venue. The result is classy, trashy – and deeply serious”

“The Car Man is a steamy, pulp-fiction take on the opera Carmen.”

“Bigger! bolder! beefier..What this vast auditorium loses – some pressure-cooker intensity, some dramatic detail – the production makes up for. The fantastically versatile, multilevel set cleverly incorporates a live orchestra and billboard screens; it can switch scenes at the flick of a light switch, and extends along a thrust stage down which the dancers can parade or hurtle. The amplified music combines numbers from Rodion Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite with sound effects, so that it serves as both orchestral score and cinema soundtrack.”

“The lead dancers carry the story with full-bodied conviction, but the entire cast seem to relish their roles in a work that is outrageously melodramatic and deeply serious, classy and trashy, manipulative and sincere. Like Luca himself, The Car Man brazenly gets to have it both ways.”


“Matthew Bourne pulls it off with this smart, sexy revival”

“This terrific, libidinous amalgam of Carmen and The Postman Always Rings Twice gets a new lease of life at the Royal Albert Hall”

“Bourne, designer Lez Brotherston and Bourne’s entire New Adventures company go the extra mile to make the story fly in that magnificent but unforgiving space.”

“The dancers and musicians now total a considerably swelled 65, with Bourne’s crisp, foot-stomping, pelvis-gyrating choreography adroitly expanded to capitalise on the new space.”

“The show is impressive: absolutely crystal-clear in its storytelling, and fizzing with the intelligent irreverence that distinguishes this master of dance theatre.”

“a punchy, visceral mix, sensibly leavened by plenty of humour (take the duet between two characters, unaware that they’ve both just been serviced by the same mechanic), and the cast have a field-day.”

“This is a show that’s impossible not to enjoy wherever you are in the house.


“A deft, intense reinvention, simmering with danger”

“Will Bozier and Zizi Strallen give energetic performances as Luca and Lana in this huge yet intimate show”

“Bourne’s choreography is full of observed body language, tiny moments of physical intensity that register on a big scale. New Adventures, his own company, are natural dance actors.”


“Matthew Bourne’s hot-blooded version of Carmen purrs along and then stalls”

“The first act was especially terrific. Shame, then, about a second half that suffers from some of the same unconvincing narrative choices that were present at the production’s premiere in 2000. The result is an initially great night out that goes dissatisfyingly pear-shaped.”

“Bourne’s storytelling is also loaded with kinetic juice. The show opens like gangbusters with a tone-setting ensemble dance rife with zesty leaps, swirls, stomps and swivelling turns.”

“Grand scale drama and decadence”

“An explosive restaging of the original dance drama”

“At times dancers lounge, moving languidly, slow and low conveying the unbearable heat – but aren’t averse to sweating it out in orgy-scenes with explicit choreography seeing characters driven by misogyny and testosterone, bisexual desire and malice. It is overt, playful and sensual, from jiving hoedowns at the neon-lit diner through Bozier’s domineering “Habanera” solo to a witty full cast Toreador song starring an irreverent mime-artist scene.”


“Powerful, super-heated sleaze”

“Welcome return for Matthew Bourne’s epic ballet noir”

“Matthew Bourne’s talent as a choreographic storyteller is unassailable. Through an astute combination of silent movie gesture, mime and dance, he has taken the fundamentals of ballet and brought them kicking, if not screaming, to a mass audience. ”

“Of all Bourne’s ballets this is probably the trickiest to adapt to the venue’s space, given the intimate nature of the story. But it remains a work of super-heated sleaze that is as powerful as anything he has made.”

Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man is booking until 19 June 2022 at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

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Mohammad Mo
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The former Big Brother contestant has been working with MarkMeets for 5+ years.

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