Dance-Theatre review - Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle [Helen Maybanks]

FANS of Sting are in for a treat at the Peacock Theatre. Kate Prince’s dance-theatre show Message in a Bottle is inspired by and set to the iconic hits of the award-winning artist, and includes Every Breath You Take, Roxanne and Invisible Sun.

Many have been newly arranged or brilliantly remastered into a gorgeous soundtrack (supervised by Alex Lacamoire) with several guest vocalists – Beverley Knight has recorded a stunning rendition of Fields of Gold.

We follow a refugee family as they flee their war-torn country, having lost everything they hold dear. Three siblings (Deavion Brown, Natasha Gooden, Lukas McFarlane) undertake a harrowing voyage by sea only to find themselves incarcerated in a detention centre. Separately, they have to find their own way to safety and build new lives for themselves.

First seen in 2020, this is a timely revival, particularly given Suella Braverman’s current rhetoric. The choreography is terrific and features an exhilarating mix of styles from hip-hop to jazz performed by Prince’s talented troupe of dancers, ZooNation.

Prince, aided by dramaturg Lolita Chakrabarti, has created the narrative around Sting’s songs.

Some fit better than others. Don’t Stand So Close to Me, for instance, feel shoe-horned into the tale, whereas Inshallah clearly resonates with the theme. Occasionally, it feels as though the refugee plot is serving the songs and choreography rather than the other way around.

Its heart is in the right place, but I found the deliberately upbeat ending problematic, although Andrzej Goulding’s impressive video projections and Natasha Chivers’ evocative lighting darken the mood in earlier scenes.

Message in a Bottle is essentially a crowd pleaser and, I suspect, it’ll be met with standing ovations every night. It’s due to tour Sydney next month and the US and Canada in 2024. Catch it here while you can.

Until October 14

Originally published by Camden New Journal