Play Without Words

REVIEW by Willard Manus

Matthew Bourne turns Joseph Losey's 1963 film The Servant on its ear in PLAY WITHOUT WORDS, his extravagant and imaginative dance-drama now on tap at the Ahmanson Theatre (in association with UCLA Live at Royce Hall). Where Losey's film (written by Harold Pinter) took a grim, gritty look at a master-worker relationship in the class-conscious UK, Bourne's production pokes fun at the theme, using a jazz score (by Terry Davies), flamboyant set & costumes (by Lez Brotherston), and tricky, flashy staging to fashion a cheeky, music-hall spectacle.

Bourne has opened up Losey's claustrophobic film, bringing in much more of 60s "swinging London," employing three actors to play each major role (thereby showing the beginning, middle and end of each scene simultaneously), and inventing a slew of new characters. That he manages to tell such a large, complicated story without benefit of dialogue--even silent films used titles--is a testament to his creative gifts. Bourne is well-served by his ensemble, whose sexy, dazzling dancing won standing ovations from the audience.
Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave. Call (213) 628-2772 or visit For group sales call (213) 972-7231