MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
A Sadler's Wells and Universal Music UK Production Based on the Songs of Sting
Reviewed by Nyla Arslanian
Four cheering and standing ovations concluded one of the most exciting and original stage productions this reviewer has ever seen. Others might have included a parade of large puppets, crashing chandeliers, or helicopters, each of these amazing theatrical feats lasting minutes during a show, nothing prepared this reviewer for the sheer artistry of movement witnessed at The Pantages in Message In A Bottle.
At a loss for words to describe what was witnessed, it was time to check with Mr. Webster wondering if Message In A Bottle could be called-although not billed as-a ballet. As he often does, he called it perfectly. Ballet: A theatrical form using dancing, music, and scenery to convey a story, theme, or atmosphere. Voila! The nail was hit on the head.
Other than classical ballet or in its contemporary form, modern dance, notice is often on the feet and legs of the artist accompanied by graceful movements of the arms and upper body. Not so here.
The young, exuberant, highly trained, and credentialed cast meld hip hop, break, classical, modern, and acrobatics into an eclectic form that defied description. It seemed as if they were aware of and in control of every muscle in their bodies, facial expressions and little fingers included that followed a story line created by dramaturg Lolita Chakrabarti all set to the music of Sting. Familiar selections took on new meaning within the story's context and executed with seemingly effortless movement. A round of applause to the music and sound team of Alex Lacamoire, Martin, Terefe and Oskar Winberg.
Set design by Ben Stones and Lighting by Natasha Chivers was perfection, minimal and spare, but left no doubt that change of locale, sometimes subtle and sometimes dramatic was occurring. Costume Designer Anna Fleischle's costumes moved the story along, pardon the expression, seamlessly.
A synopsis was included in the program, but much of the story line was suggested and thus, the audience was free to bring their own interpretation to the theme of loss of home, war, loss, imprisonment, and reconciliation.
While there were standout performances, each cast member had their moment and the ensemble often performed as one unit which, as noted above, involved many forms of movement was remarkable. Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Kate Prince with Zoonation: The Kate Prince Company resident companies at the UK's Old Vic. Hollywood was the opening venue for a tour that will include Chicago, Montreal, Boston, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and New York City.
Give yourself a Valentine's Day gift for the love of theatre, the love of dance, and the love of humanity. And be ready to stand and cheer. Act fast: It is only in Hollywood through Sunday, February 11. Matinees Saturday and Sunday.