Message in a Bottle – Review

Message in a Bottle: Peacock Theatre, London

19th February 2020

★★★★★

Message in a Bottle is the new dance-theatre show from triple Olivier Award nominee Kate Prince MBE. Featuring iconic hits by Sting, including Roxanne, Fields of Gold and Every Breath You Take, this new dance spectacular is both strong and passionate yet emotive and sensitive at the same time. Telling the story of three siblings as they step out in their own extraordinary adventures, it is a story of humanity and hope.

Kate Prince is no stranger to this style of dance storytelling. Prior to Message in a Bottle she has choreographed multiple shows including Slyvia and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and is the creator behind ZooNation Dance Company whose shows have been impressing audiences for over 10 years. Her innovative style of choreography is showcased in this World Premiere by an outstanding cast. It is a real fusion of styles, predominately contemporary and hip hop, with each style complimenting each other whilst at all times being fundamental to the story. The company work excellently in unison and the choreography allows for individual performers to shine and utilise their skills and talents. Message in a Bottle has plenty of tricks and ‘wow’ moments but it is not dominated by this. Instead every single moment and movement is thought about and executed with precision by the cast. It is more than just a dance show; it is a story told through dance.

The music by Sting is poignant and meaningful. The lyrics aid the performance and, despite the age of the songs, are completely relevant now. The use of real situations, such as refugees and prison/refugee camps, mixed with the ‘fantasy’ world which is created in the show works really well and makes it more relatable. Martin Terefe and Alex Lacamoire’s clever arrangements of Sting’s songs bring new life to them and the music forms much more than just a backdrop.

ZooNation always casts the best of the best and this company are no different. Each and every member performs with passion, commitment and undeniable talent. They are not just dancers, but storytellers. Hardly leaving the stage, the cast perform the complex and technical choreography with ease and seemingly never-ending energy. Natasha Gooden’s ability to tell a story through not just her dance but her entire presence is superb and Tommy Franzen excels throughout, a particular highlight is the inclusion of a fantastic same-sex pairing with the brilliant Samuel Baxter. Nafisah Baba’s gorgeous lines and ballet style adds a different twist into the usual hip hop, break dance style of ZooNation and Lukas McFarlane’s emotion and skill through the second half, in particular, is stunning. Each and every dancer is important and valued and it is clear from their performance that they are committed, passionate and dance from the heart.

The simple set, by Ben Stones, is used effectively throughout with the action constantly using the entire stage meaning that every audience member will be able to see and feel involved. The lighting, by Natasha Chivers, is sublime. Aiding the story and emotion completely; the lighting compliments and works alongside the music and choreography to add tension, drama and atmosphere and make a truly emotive piece of theatre. Video projections by Andrzej Goulding are also very effective and their simplicity combined with the dark images portrayed make the show more poignant and even menacing in places.

Message in a Bottle manages to blur the lines between musical, play and dance. Storytelling at its best. The cast are outstanding and give every inch of themselves on stage. With stunning, innovative and emotive choreography and a well-known and yet fresh score Message in a Bottle is definitely not one to be missed!

Message in a Bottle runs at the Peacock Theatre, London until the 21st March 2020 before continuing to tour the UK. For information and tickets click here.

Photo Credit: Johan Persson and Helen Maybanks

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