Kiss Me Quickstep, The Queens Theatre – Hornchurch
Being a Strictly Fan and having friends who compete on the amateur Ballroom Championship circuit I was interested to see what Amanda Whittington would take from this world and highlight in this new play. But don’t be mistaken into thinking this is all dance and nothing more. This is about relationships and life and pain and heartache.
This was presented in the round with a dance floor on the stage front and centre with a selection of seats on the stage, topped off with 3 large arches and numerous glitter balls over the stage.
The cast were introduced as they entered through the auditorium and gave us a sense of their excitement of arriving at Blackpool. The first couple we were introduced to were Luka played by Adrian Klein and Nancy played by Abigail Middleton. Luka was brought over from Moscow by Nancy’s father Mick played by Garry Robson to dance with his daughter and all the characters were extremely well portrayed. All the cast had to learn to ballroom dance and Adrian in particular was captivating to watch during the dance sequences. Abigail had all the angst and frustration of a daughter who is controlled by her father and gave us a good insight into her insecurities and desires. Garry Robson as Mick was menacing and controlling and in places quite terrifying as he tried to manipulate the outcome of the competition with bribery and threats.
The next couple were Justin played by David Birch and Jodie played by Vicki Lee Taylor. A married couple who are on the financial edge. Both David and Vicki worked extremely well together and their dancing was one of the highlights of the evening. Both actors really got under the skin of their characters and showed us some of the issues of the amateur ballroom circuit.
The last couple were Lee and Sam played retrospectively by Joshua Lay and Michelle Bishop. With the pressure of past success and following the death of Sam’s dance teacher mother they are out of kilter with each other with Sam looking for the answers to life. I thought Michelle gave an outstanding performance as the troubled Sam who has turned to drink and is questioning everything about herself and by contrast Joshua was perfectly cast as the motivated dancer who needs to stay on top.
With the addition of community dancers and the young actresses playing the Young Jodie and Samantha this was an all-around strong production. We were actually in the seats on the stage so we were up close and personal with the actors. In addition, I really liked the use of the wardrobe rails in their many guises as scenery. Simple yet so effective.
While there was glamour and sequins with the costume and dance routines this was also a gritty and down to earth play which worked to great effect. This was not a comedy as it was portrayed but a deeper look at the people and their lives on the amateur dance circuit. This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and certainly a play worth viewing.