You can almost feel the shimmering heat as dancers frolick over car bonnets and dinner tables.

Matthew Bourne has brought the sweat and tensions of an American garage to London this summer in The Car Man, which reimagines Bizet’s steamy opera Carmen and mixes in story elements from The Postman Always Rings Twice.

The town of Harmony is merrily chugging along on cliches until stranger Luca arrives and sparks passion within both the female and male residents. Christopher Trenfield is a powerhouse of strength and control and his introductory solo, where he languidly dances rings around the townsfolk shaking his derriere in their faces and seeming to hang in mid-air, draws rapturous applause.

He leads the mechanics in a dance which recalls the Latin shapes of the passa double and his posturing catches the eye of the sultry Lana (Zizi Strallen), who lithely cavorts among the men of the town behind her husband’s back, making it plain she is looking for some action. Temperatures rise on and off stage as the men flaunt their ridiculously toned bodies during a saucy shower scene and give us more than we bargained for.

Enfield Independent:

Jonathan Ollivier as Luca.  Photo by Johan Persson

Luca and Lana succumb to tempatation and embark on a steamy affair and their duet is beautifully choreographed to capture the aimal heat of their passion and the grace of their bodies uniting in motion. Their erotic coupling is tempered perfectly by the sweetly innocent flirting between the young, picked-upon Angelo (Liam Mower) and Lana’s younger sister Rita (Kate Lyons), a waitress at the garage diner. The tenderness of their duets is a highlight.

Passions are set aflame when, in an extra twist, Luca decides he also has eyes for another. All this cavorting ends in the grisly death of Lana’s husband Dino and Bourne’s decision to bring back Alan Vincent, who played Luca in 2007, for the role is a stroke of genius which adds pathos to this Greek tragedy of a tale. He and Luca embark on a nightmarish duet in the second act with Dino both seeming to accuse and acquiesce to his dominance.

Bourne is a master at bringing cinematic scope to the dance stage but there is none of the fairytale qualities of Edward Scissorhands here. It is all gritty reality and passion over poise and the result is hot, hot, hot!