MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE REVIEW – PEACOCK THEATRE
13/03/20 – 7.30PM
Welcome to theatre week on The English Everygirl.
After reviews of & Juliet and Waitress, now we’re onto day 3 of theatre week. I might have extended the duration of Theatre Week because I got very lazy and couldn’t keep up! Think of it as Theatre Fortnight instead!
After seeing 2 musicals, I wanted a night off from the singing and decided on a dance production instead. Message in a Bottle was something that’s been on my radar but I didn’t have any plans to see the show. Lucky for me, I managed to snag a ticket so here’s a closer look at my Message in a Bottle review.
I have to admit the main reason I booked this show was to see Lukas McFarlane live on stage. I’ve been a fan of his since his Got To Dance days and am drawn to his emotive storytelling through dance. Another reason I bought a ticket because it was also the cheapest rush ticket I could buy on the TodayTix app. Whilst it had been on my to watchlist, I thought it would be one I’d just miss out on.
A contemporary dance show to the music of Sting? How intriguing. I knew that the storyline was surrounding refugees and their story but in all honesty, I knew very little.
You will not believe the talent across this entire cast! Each of them are versed in so many different dance styles but still have their own speciality. The cast seems to switch the three main roles of siblings around so I saw Lukas McFarlane (Leto), Tommy Franzen (Mati) and Hannah Sandilands (Tana).
Obviously, as I went to see McFarlane, he was an obvious standout. There’s just something about the amount of emotion he delivers through his expressions and movement that just gets to me. I can always spot his choreography a mile off too; there’s just something just so distinctive about it. His contemporary work has featured on Strictly over the past couple of years: Karim & Amy’s couple’s choice and showdance (2019), Saffron & AJ (2019), Lauren & AJ (2018) and Ashley & Pasha’s spectacular couple’s choice (2018) too.
Franzen came 2nd on the failed So You Think You Can Dance? in the UK. When the US version is so popular, I’ve no idea why it didn’t work over here! Anyway, he is predominantly a hip hop/street dancer, who’s done choreography for Strictly too. This past season, he produced couples’ choice street dances for Dev & Dianne, Alex & Kevin (Ghostbusters), Charles & Karen AND Kelvin & Oti. However, once again, you can tell he has a preferred style but is happy to incorporate other styles in too. Whilst he is a top-notch breakdancer, his contemporary fusion is equally as impressive. Apparently he was flatmates with Kevin Clifton so I knew there was a reason that I liked him!
Sandilands is no slouch herself. Supporting two superstar male leads is a hard task but she has an aura of innocence and kindness about her when she dances. However, she can be fierce and strong during other numbers. She was a member of Company Jinks, who featured on The Greatest Dancer in series 1, so her technique is certainly one of her main strengths.
The rest of the company excels in all genres of dance and Message in a Bottle truly is a spectacular of dance fusion and story.
Who would’ve ever thought you could even dance along to Sting songs, never mind use them and the medium of dance to tell a story? Whilst some songs didn’t quite blend into the storyline for me, the majority of them conveyed the dancers’ feelings at that point in the show.
Sting himself has recorded new versions of some songs specifically for this production and also roped in Beverley Knight for a couple of songs. Her rendition of Fields of Gold was a tearjerker, similar to the Eva Cassidy version. Her powerhouse vocals really make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
It certainly was more gut-wrenching than I ever could’ve imagined. You really went on a complete journey with these characters and the production really made you think. I realised just how lucky I am to live in one of the more secure and stable countries, despite everything going on right now. These people are human beings fleeing war zones and poverty to find safety elsewhere for themselves and their family. The least we can do is welcome them into our community and treat them with kindness and respect.
My pre-show thoughts of a contemporary dance show were blown out of the water. Hip hop, breakdancing, jazz, tribal and ballet all feature in various stages throughout the show. I love that contemporary itself is really just an amalgamation of types of dance, featuring lyrical, ballet and street heavily. In fact, I’d say the show was a hip hop-contemporary blend with other elements thrown into the mix. Kate Prince isn’t a choreographer I know a lot about but if I did, I would’ve known that hip hop would feature heavily! However, it seems that her unique style pushes the boundaries every time.
Honestly, I’ve never been so in awe of a group of performers. Every single person covers multiple dance styles and has so many strengths to bring to the table. You see a diverse cast, with people of a range of ages, shapes, sizes, race and sexuality being highlighted on stage.
Unfortunately, with the closures of the West End theatres, Message in a Bottle has now completed its run at the Peacock Theatre. Fingers crossed that it reappears again somewhere later this year!
Did you enjoy my Message in a Bottle review? Did you manage to see the show?
Are you a fan of dance productions?