Sex, lies and Hitchcock

Adventures In Motion Pictures Deadly Serious APA Drama Theatre February 3-7 WHAT's black and white and could well be subtitled Sexual Perversity in Manderley? Such an eager waving of hands. Ah, so you've seen Deadly Serious.

If you haven't, go for it. This dance company from Britain is everything it's cracked up to be; talented, audacious and frankly riveting - especially in the first half of its tribute to Alfred Hitchcock.

It matters not if you've never read Daphne du Maurier's novel or seen Hitchcock's 1940 film version. Taking monumental liberties, director-choreographer Matthew Bourne has plunged the tale of passion and mystery into the realm of the subconscious and a few places beyond.

The principal players are seemingly intact. There is Max de Winter (Bourne), smoothie-chops handsome as ever. And there is his adoring second wife (Etta Murfitt) and the sinister Mrs Danvers (Ally Fitzpatrick).

But wait. Who is that leering lodger? And what are Psycho's Norman Bates and a sly tennis player called Guy doing in the Cornish mansion? Is the tremulous young spouse in for the surreal nightmare of her life? You had better believe it.

This is suspense the Master himself never envisaged. It is also as much theatre as dance and astonishingly cinematic in effect as Bourne blends classic chiller with lurid sexual fantasy.

Deft characterisation is essential and not a single performer disappoints, though Murfitt must be singled out for praise. What a stunner. Hollywood should be so lucky.

Camp antics aside, Part Two, Rear Entry, doesn't live up to its promising title.

Switching from 40s black and white to 50s Glorious Technicolor is a neat idea, but Bourne presumes too much. Apart from Turn, Tippi, Tern (reinforced by a terrified, bird-laden Fitzpatrick) most of the pieces are lost on today's generation and more than a few movie-goers of yesteryear.

Still, amends are made by the dancing, music and black humour, and David Manners' set doubles up cleverly. His climbing frame goes a long way in Rear Entry, though most effective is that coffin-like box in Overwrought.

In Bourne's wicked hands, it's not so much chilling as . . . sorry, that would be telling.