Somnium: A Dancer’s Dream review at Sadler’s Wells – ‘a fun, if self-indulgent, fan-orientated show’
Sequins, tassels, flashy routines and a pop soundtrack – all things you’d expect of Strictly Come Dancing and what any fan of the show might hope to see in Somnium: A Dancer’s Dream, a new show produced by Strictly pro-dancers Neil and Katya Jones.
For the most part, Somnium delivers that crowd-pleasing combination, but it offers little more despite its attempts at being a ‘serious’ show. Simply constructed, it shoehorns a series of dance routines around the autobiographical narrative of how Neil and Katya met, fell in love and went on to become World Latin Showdance Champions.
It could prove an interesting story charting the ups and downs of success, but instead, the literal, linear narration of events tells little more than the outline above. Actor Charles Venn, a former contestant on Strictly, plays the Jones’ dance teacher/narrator, but he struggles to lift a dry and awkwardly written script.
Somnium works best when it sticks to upbeat routines and displays of its dancers’ skills which is, after all, what the show’s enthusiastic audience appears to have come for. The dancing is sharp and strong, although some sequences prove a little underwhelming. Still, Neil and Katya’s ‘first dance’ rumba is beautifully choreographed and a couple of high-energy numbers carry the show – one in which five men in tassel fringed lycra giving their all to a routine that wouldn’t look out of place in Magic Mike is particularly memorable
Somnium is good-humoured, fan-orientated entertainment. It doesn’t need a laboured narrative or cringe-worthy attempt at a moral conclusion, and it’s these serious moments that fall flat.
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