Set in small-town America (population 375) in the '50s, the action is based around a garage and diner run by a gawky owner with a beautiful wife who strays when a drifter appears to work in the garage. The drifter not only causes the wife to stray but also seduces the young hired-hand and shags him in a car leading to both the wife and the hired-hand dancing in ecstacy and the joys of new-found love. Oh, if only life continued in this vein for the small town but, needless to say, it doesn't.
This was an excellent production (as you'd expect) with slick choreography, simple but effective sets and a glorious and atmospheric interpretation of Bizet's music. I liked the mingling of sexual preferences from the start (two of the garage hands are obviously lovers, others seem ambiguous) and was slightly puzzled at the quiet ripple of 'ooohhs' from sections of the audience at the first man-to-man kiss during a play fight.
The continual movement on stage kept the pace going, with characters doing something in the corners of the stage while the centre was telling the story, only slowing for a few set pieces when the dancers were left centre-stage. Sexual tension littered the stage with touching and seduction and bodies supine after sex. Darkness and danger are never far from the surface though, and we witness a rather distressing prison rape scene, which, from the bruises on the hired-hand's torso, suggests it's been a regular occurance, turning him hard and careless when he meets his own love again. In the end, however, small-town America takes care of its own.
I'm not a fan of dance at all but I like Matthew Bourne's productions. This is the third I've seen ('Swan Lake' and 'Play Without Words' were the others) and once again I've been rewarded by a thoughtful production that lifts the spirit. I'm looking forward to the next.