This is the 80th year of Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s skating extravaganza Hot Ice and it knows exactly what it is doing.
Utopian features a huge cast of Olympic and world-champion skaters dancing at breakneck speeds and a shed-load of rhinestones. What it doesn’t have is any sensical plot – but who needs story when you can land a double-axel?
Routines range from a James Bond-inspired performance in dinner jackets to a full-on Swan Lake sequence that borrows more than a little from Matthew Bourne. The focus is very much on the thrilling skill of the male skaters in both the group numbers and back-flipping, leaping solos; despite demonstrating nerves of steel as they are lifted and spun, the women aren’t given the space to individually shine like the men.
Hot Ice seems totally self-aware of how wonderfully bizarre it is. Aerialist Alexey Kofanov’s straps routine begins with him taking a bath in a claw-footed tub in the middle of the rink like a 1950s pin up. It’s surreal and playful as he soaks the ice with his splashing.
Utopian has Las Vegas levels of production. Michael Seaman’s lighting is extreme without any cheesiness. There’s a ridiculous amount of pyrotechnics, plus multiple snow and bubble machines for good measure. The costumes are glitzy enough to make any drag queen weep with desire, with sequins and feathers galore, but also cleverly cut with fluttering fabric making the skaters appear ethereal. The whole thing is rather magical, if bordering on the ridiculous in its excess.