Message In a Bottle review: Powerful message in dance show with Sting soundtrack

Message In a Bottle at Birmingham Hippodrome, reviewed by Maria Cusine.

Message In A Bottle performed at Birmingham Hippodrome. Photo: Helen Maybanks
Message In A Bottle performed at Birmingham Hippodrome. Photo: Helen Maybanks

What a joy to be back at the theatre - and even more so when a show you've waited 18 months to see finally arrives.

Message In A Bottle was one of the first shows to be postponed at Birmingham Hippodrome when the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. On Friday night it finally took to the stage - and it was well worth the wait.

Before the main event, the audience was treated to a 'curtain raiser' performance by young dancers from the Black Country. It was the first time youngsters had performed at the theatre since the pandemic and the students from Sandwell's Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust delivered some amazing moves. What a great build-up for the main event.

Message In A Bottle is a hip-hop dance show set to the backdrop of Sting's greatest hits. Now that may not seem the most obvious pairing - especially as that's combined with a storyline about refugees. But director and choreographer Kate Prince makes it work superbly.

It tells the story of three young siblings, who have to flee from a civil war in their homeland and find a new path in life as refugees. There's darkness and despair, but there is also a powerful message of survival, love and the overwhelming feeling of hope.

Message In A Bottle performed at Birmingham Hippodrome. Photo: Helen Maybanks

And the Sting soundtrack does work. The clever use of his hits is certainly relevant with Every Breath You Take, which is played as guards watch over the characters in a detention centre, while Roxanne is set against a backdrop of a brothel and Fields of Gold plays in a scene reminding us of happier times.

While the majority are sung by Sting himself there are some guest vocalists including Wolverhampton's own singing sensation Beverly Knight, whose Fields of Gold and If You Love Somebody Set Them Free are among the highlights.

Of course it's the amazing hip-hop dancers who steal the show. Each and every one of them. Their energetic, acrobatic - and sometimes gravity-defying - moves are exhilarating as they illustrate the wide ranging feelings of the characters set against an atmospheric stage set. Every little thing they did was magic.

Needless to say the lengthy standing ovation was well deserved.

The audience was thrilled by the performance, and no doubt at the joy of being back at the theatre.

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