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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke


🎭 Message In A Bottle

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Friday 19th May 2023



It's hard to find the words to describe just how much I enjoyed last night's performance of Message in a Bottle at Theatre Royal Plymouth! This electrifying dance show, from five-time Olivier nominee Kate Prince, is set to the songs of Sting and takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster.

I was honestly sceptical whether the chosen backdrop of songs would be able to build such a coherent story, but each song fitted perfectly with what was happening on stage and I found a deeper meanings in many of the songs.

The tracks are a real mixture of original recordings, re-recordings and covers and this works extremely well and sits wonderfully. There was a moment where a female character is attacked and abducted and when the lyrics “Don’t stand so close to me” were sung, they were performed by a female singer which made the piece all the more powerful.

I really enjoyed the music and was especially excited to hear the voice of Beverley Knight on some of the tracks. She has such a powerful and soulful voice, which I recognised straight away and was a happy surprise!

The story follows a close knit family which is shattered when their joyous home is attacked and the father is killed. The remaining family members become refugees and take on a perilous journey across a sea of worries and fears that also claims the life of the mother. The three siblings end up in a refugee camp and are separated and we follow each of their journeys from there.

This production is a real eclectic mix of dance styles and is everything you could possibly want from a dance show. Each piece was arguably more powerful than the one which preceded it and I was in awe of the beautiful storytelling, which was danced with precision by an incredibly talented company.

There were some incredibly beautiful moments in the show with perhaps the most sensational coming in Act 2. Shape of my Heart was a beautifully simple intimate moment which occurs when one of the brothers finds love. This section is the only piece to be performed by just two dancers and is almost understated in a truly breathtaking way. The lyrics “Be yourself no matter what they say” resonated deeply here.

So Lonely is performed by the three siblings after they have been separated and alongside the fantastic dancing skills features some great technical skills too which all come together to deliver a strong section of the show.

The reprise of Fields of Gold stands out as the older brother is reunited with his wife after she was abducted and sold onto the sex trade and the two dancers have a deep connection which was felt throughout the auditorium.

The company gave an absolutely flawless performance and I felt each and every emotion portrayed throughout. There was not a weak link amongst them and they utterly deserved the standing ovation they received. There was one dancer for me who stood out and that was the insane talent that is Lukas McFarlane. He is such a charismatic performer who emits a great energy and I was drawn to him whenever he was on the stage. McFarlane is also an associate choreographer for the show.

This show ultimately shows the capability of human endurance and in the end is an uplifting story of hope, defiance and the strength of humanity.

Every part of this production had me awe struck. From the soundtrack (which really needs to be released) and the simple but effective set to the glorious lighting design and the projections used throughout.

Message in a Bottle has two more performances at Theatre Royal Plymouth today so if you’re in the South West then cancel all plans and head to and get yourself to the hottest dance ticket of the year!

The show has other dates later in the year. You can find out all future dates as well as show information and company biographies at .

Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.

My tickets for this performance were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to review the production. The fact that my tickets were gifted played no part in my star rating for this review.


Oliver Andrews; Nafisah Baba; Lindon Barr; Deavion Brown; David Cottle; Harrison Dowzell; Nestor Garcia Gonzalez; Natasha Gooden; Lizzie Gough; Anna Holmström; Megan Ingram; Ajani Johnson-Goffe; Charlotte Lee; Daniella May; Dylan Mayoral; Lukas McFarlane; Robbie Ordona; Lara Renaud; Hannah Sandilands; Jessey Stol; Steven Thompson; Gavin Vincent; Malachi Welch

RUNNING TIME (approx):

1 hour 50 minutes, including interval


Mild depictions of attack, sexual violence and drug use


10 +

The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the country's largest and most attended regional producing theatre.


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