We round up the review’s for Matthew Bourne’s latest show, opening at Sadler’s Wells before embarking on a UK tour.

(c)Johan Persson

The Guardian: **** “The show’s success owes much to the atmosphere created by Bourne’s collaborators: Paul Groothuis’s sound design, the birdsong and footsteps and car engines that make the city hum even in the early hours; and Lez Brotherston’s designs, cleverly shifting to indicate a warren of Soho streets, just a red roof and a receiver to represent a telephone box; all enhanced by Paule Constable’s lighting.”

Evening Standard: **** “Not every story develops as expected, and the dance is deft and busy, squirming with detail – a coat shrugged off a shoulder, one hand reaching sneakily for another. His characters may be falling apart, but Bourne’s storytelling is secure and richly captivating.”

iNews: ***** “The Midnight Bell tells the stories of everything from drunken fumbles to true romances, the solo drinkers and the late-night thinkers. And it does so with absolute tenderness. Intoxicating.” 

Culture Whisper: **** “With touches of mischievous humour lifting the gloom, The Midnight Bell is Matthew Bourne’s best work in a while. If anything, some of the pacing in Act I is slightly off, with slow stretches where the action sags just a little; but Act II simply could not be improved.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Lighting designer Paule Constable creates an atmospheric backdrop for Bourne’s vivid choreography, summoning the warmth and intensity of a pub or club followed by the cold anonymity of London streets. Set and costume designer Lez Brotherston does a lot with a little – ordinary pub chairs and tables are shifted around the place, dingy window frames hang in mid-air – suggesting locations without overegging them.”

The Independent: **** “The Midnight Bell is all Bourne, drawing on Hamilton but developing his own story – his first since the wonderful Play Without Words in 2002. Once again, it shows his gift for the drama of everyday gesture, revealing hope and repression through the way his characters move.”

The Arts Desk: ***** “With a cast of 12, this is small-scale compared with hits such as The Red Shoes and Swan Lake, but it’s far from small in ambition. After two hours in the theatre, you are hard pressed to identify a story, and yet those two hours of wordless dance-theatre are as affecting as anything Bourne has produced in his long career.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “The problem with this kind of latticed narrative is that there’s quite a lot of story to tell. Bourne’s usually striking and slightly flashy choreography is largely replaced with elegant, long-limbed miming. No doubt the steps are deceptively simple, but who wants simple. There are no big numbers really. The closest we get is a dance hall sequence, but the couples aren’t synchronised as each is confined to their own world of two.”

The Stage: **** “Multiple storylines intertwine in Matthew Bourne’s atmospheric evocation of 1930s London.”

British Theatre Guide: “Bourne is known for tinkering with his productions—and The Midnight Bell still has an embryonic quality to it. But all his signifiers are nicely in place. A natural storyteller with a love of musicals and cinema, Bourne brings his familiar signature tropes to this new production, which has toured the provinces before, and will do so after its brief London sojourn, till 27 November. Bourne’s huge fan base will see it run and run.”

The Times: *** “Matthew Bourne’s new piece, subtitled Intoxicated Tales from Darkest Soho, works best if you don’t worry too much about who each character is.”

The Midnight Bell continues to play at Sadler’s Wells until the 9th October before embarking on a UK tour until the 27th November. To find out more visit: https://new-adventures.net/the-midnight-bell#overview