Review Kiss Me Quickstep, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch & New Wolsey Theatre by Karis Clarke

Written by Amanda Whittington, Directed by Kirstie Davis

Showing Tuesday 26 – Saturday  to 30 March 2019

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) A treat for any Strictly Come Dancing On Ice fans!!

Between September and December you can’t stay in on a Saturday night and not be intrigued by the glamour and drama of the feathers and sequins of Strictly Ballroom Whether you are a fan of the show or not everyone knows the hype that surrounds the all important accolade of making it to the world famous Empress Ballroom in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens. This is the setting for Theatre Clwyd’s latest hit offering “Kiss Me Quickstep”, a bittersweet comic insight into the lives of three amateur dance partners and their bid to be the best.

The stories of the three partners are loosely intertwined, with a sense of  rivalry, mystery and jealousy rippling underneath the surface loud enough for us to know all is not as it seems  – the story develops at a steady pace with no real surprises. The audience is left with a smile on their face, toe tapping and hand jiving with the sense that all is well with the world.

It would have been easy to have over developed characters and plot turning it more farcical than funny and creating caricatures rather than believable characters. Thankfully this talented ensemble do neither, characterisation is beautifully raw and timed to perfection – which is hardly surprising as everything about the play is about timing… even the stagehands dance with props in synchronisation. The trust and timing element is excellently displayed in a couple of costume changes on set which are risky but funny.

The set is depicted by a couple of chairs, rails and two arch lighting rigs.  The cast use a combination of movement and dance with this simple set and it becomes backstage, dressing rooms and the audience filled dance floor with ease.

It would be rude not to mention the dancing – I am a Strictly fan and for me there was just the right amount of dance any more and I think it would have been distracting from the play, any less and the sense of why they were there would be lost. As it was, it worked just fine, I did like it better when just one couple was dancing at a time as I felt the stage was a little on the small side for a three partners to be dancing, however this did not spoil the play in any way. As a bonus Theatre Clwyd Community Dancers were involved as additional dancers, this gave an extra dimension for the cast and audience to work with.

As far as rating go I am not sure I would place it as a quickstep – it lacked the bounce and speed, for me, it was more an American Smooth – it glided along elegantly, had a few high lifts and dips in the middle and ended with a peck on the cheek.

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